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Who pays?

Betsan Powys | 16:53 UK time, Thursday, 2 July 2009

First, swine flu seemed to stay away from Wales.

Health officials kept saying it would be coming soon and they were, of course, right. Why would Wales be immune? And with it has come the need to pay for the swine flu vaccination programme.

The question is, who pays?

Rhodri Morgan has written to the Chancellor in the past few weeks and his letter - probably - went something like this.

Dear Mr Darling,

This pandemic is what I'd call an exceptional emergency situtation so the costs should be borne by you lot. It should come from UK Government reserves. Yes, I know that health is devolved - it's about the only area of responsibility the man on the Canton omnibus knows is devolved - but this is the kind of one-off serious situation that affects the whole of the UK and so Westminster should foot the bill.

Yours ...

The costs of buying enough vaccine for us in Wales and administering it is likely to run into tens of millions of pounds. No surprise then that the First Minister's counterparts in the Scottish and Northern Irish administrations sent similar letters to Mr Darling some time ago.

But Mr Morgan's, remember, is a Labour-led administration and his case won't have been helped by Cathy Jamieson, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing for Labour in the Scottish Parliament. She's called on the SNP to explain why they won't pay. Why are they, she demands to know, "apparently unwilling to pay for flu vaccinations when health is a fully devolved policy area".

Mmm. Thanks Cathy Mr Morgan must have muttered under his breath.

She told the Times "The Treasury have made it absolutely clear that Scotland will be treated in exactly the same way as the rest of the UK and the Health Secretary (Nicola Sturgeon) needs to concentraet on doing her job. The public will not forgive anyone who plays politics at a time like this".

I assume that 'anyone' includes the Labour First Minister in Wales?

The signs are that the Treasury is siding with Ms Jamieson in this one. Health is devolved. You wanted it? You got it. In good times and in bad.

If Mr Darling stands his ground what does that mean? It means the Assembly Government would either have to find the extra millions from within the health budget or raid its reserves - and those of you with good a memory will remember this and realise it will really not want to do that.


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  • 1. At 7:20pm on 02 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    What a great opportunity for the Welsh Assembly Government to do what we expect government to do, Health is devolved .....

    ..... so publicly, demonstrate good governance and protect the whole population, there's only 3 million of us, and this is what you are elected and paid to do.

    And if you are unable to protect us, resign, the WAG that is.....

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  • 2. At 9:11pm on 02 Jul 2009, spartans11 wrote:

    Seems to be 2 seperate debates surrounding swine flu.

    1. Health professionals deciding the best course of action

    2. Politicians deciding who should pick up the tab

    And then there's Ms Jamieson starting a ruck in an empty room

    "The public will not forgive anyone who plays politics at a time like this"

    She doesn't appear to have recovered from that nasty bout of Foot In Mouth several years ago, hope it doesn't get complicated with flu.

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  • 3. At 11:09pm on 02 Jul 2009, Ian wrote:

    You Tories slagged off the coalition last year for spending millions on the flu vaccine and preparation so please don't take the moral high ground.
    Having said that, I doubt that Wales will get a penny extra from London.

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  • 4. At 05:11am on 03 Jul 2009, Dewi_H wrote:

    We committed £50m already. Surely that's enough - like almost twenty quid each?

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  • 5. At 06:20am on 03 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    No moral high ground, the WAG have been sent a perfect opportunity to demonstrate what they were elected to do, govern, and the only agenda is the health of the people.

    Is the WAG up to it, making difficult decisions in a very public way, we'll see.

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  • 6. At 07:28am on 03 Jul 2009, Neocromwellian wrote:

    The WAG only writes to Westminster when it plays politics and it does not matter what the issue is but the general rule is.

    If it is to be seen in a positive way to gain more votes, to shift the blame, or the need for more power then they will write letters ensuring the full attention of the media.

    If its to do with any sort of failure to govern or the concealment of corruption in our public services then forget it, they keep reports secret and ban you from being able to complain about it.

    You could of course write to Westminster yourself but the reply is that the matter has been devolved, in other words the issue has just disappeared down a constitutional black hole.

    We suffer in many ways because the WAG will not admit to being unable to deal with situations. What makes the situation worse is that we do not have an effective opposition or alternative to put this situation right just more of the same from a different group of people.

    The WAG wants more power from Westminster but cannot deal with the power its got, they seem to need a shoulder to lean on as soon as things get difficult.

    Not so long ago the BMA was saying ministers must work with doctors, nurses, paramedics and other staff "so that all are pulling in the same direction".

    Things have improved but the minister responsible has moved on to make a mess of other essential public services.

    Who pays? - We do! Unless of course we can be immunised from the failures of this government.

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  • 7. At 09:36am on 03 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    The Barnett consequentials should help here, but if the flu epidemic is on the scale that it seems it will be then the expenditure will be outside the normal bounds of health expenditure, and that goes for the English Health Ministry too. If the treasury has to bail it out then its legitimate for Wales to get the payments too.

    I don't see that there are any difficult decisions to take, you have to look after the health of people, and that means vaccination and anti virals. Its the scale of it that could overwhelm the budget.

    So Stonemason should all funding come out of existing budgets when it will not in England?

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  • 8. At 10:22am on 03 Jul 2009, nomorepowers wrote:

    So are we saying that with our devolved powers we continue to give out freebies then when an emergency arises we ask the UK Government to bail us out.

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  • 9. At 10:33am on 03 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 8

    Are you tacitly accepting, nomorepowers, that our National Assembly clearly needs tax raising powers so that the WAG can efficiently deal with this sort of crisis without having to worry if we can afford it, or, indeed, who pays for it?

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  • 10. At 10:55am on 03 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    Is the issue just money? There are contingency funds, should they be used? Might the government let nature take its course?

    But more to the point, Health is devolved, it is not just about money, there are plans to be devised, decisions to be made .....

    ..... H1N1 or ...........

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  • 11. At 12:37pm on 03 Jul 2009, nomorepowers wrote:

    No. 9

    Are you saying this is the slippery slope to independence.

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  • 12. At 12:59pm on 03 Jul 2009, penddu wrote:

    Under Barnett, Wales gets x% (5%?) of UK health expenditure. If Westminster allocates extra cash for Swine flu, Wales will get a share. If it is to be covered by existing NHS provisions, then Wales will not get extra. Simple.

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  • 13. At 2:18pm on 03 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 11

    I was responding to your no.8, and pointing out the reality of the situation. I said nothing about slippery slopes; that is a British nationalist paranoia.

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  • 14. At 2:39pm on 03 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    When I read #9 my thoughts were "how many bottles has he consumed", Tanglefoot that is. In particular where you wrote .....

    without having to worry if we can afford it, or, indeed, who pays for it

    Then I remembered the words of Charles Dickens immortalised in David Copperfield, I commend them to you .....

    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.

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  • 15. At 3:30pm on 03 Jul 2009, nomorepowers wrote:

    What an apt and wonderful quote No.14

    The Fiscal attitude of the NATS is income 20 pounds expenditure 50 Pounds but don't worry we can rely on handouts from Europe.

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  • 16. At 3:50pm on 03 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 15

    You couldn't be more wrong. The attitude is, we are a nation, and we need the tools to do a proper job. Not much to ask is it?

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  • 17. At 3:59pm on 03 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    Shouldn't that be we are part of the Great British nation, all 60 million of us, it has a certain warm feeling about it don't you think ?

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  • 18. At 4:30pm on 03 Jul 2009, nomorepowers wrote:

    Here's your tools to see how you go.

    Health - Failing

    Education - Failing

    Regeneration, Objective one Millions - failed

    ...... Unless this lot down the bay dramatically improve their performance the only extra tools they will be given is a bulldozer and skip

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  • 19. At 4:53pm on 03 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 18

    I don't accept your analysis.

    Do you propose to do the same with Westminster?

    Re 17, I don't think so. Is that the family of which so many of its believe that the terms England and Britain are interchangeable?

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  • 20. At 5:02pm on 03 Jul 2009, Snoutsintrough wrote:

    Surely if the english health authorities get "additional" funds for SF,then wales should get more money,if they dont then neither should we and surely King Rhodri knows the answer.It is another confirmation that we appear to be perennially ungrateful "whingers",particularly with the Self Determination Party now in charge and the "poodle"labour party in tow.

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  • 21. At 5:13pm on 03 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    Nooo, the family that includes the inhabitants no-matter where they might have originated and chose to become British citizens, the same as you and me, have you checked your passport.

    Until separation (not on the agenda) we are all part of the same happy family of 60 million.

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  • 22. At 6:28pm on 03 Jul 2009, lordBeddGelert wrote:

    Barnett Bombshell...

    I have been trying to track down the comments made by Simon Jenkins regarding Government handouts, but to no avail. Any ideas

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  • 23. At 8:28pm on 03 Jul 2009, daverodway wrote:

    I love it - a post by Betsan about swine flu, and Stonemason is first off the mark with ... er... a post about how the assembly should resign and Great Britain should be saved form these nasty devolutionists!
    You guys need to see past your hates, and try to deal with the fact that some posts - most of them in fact - are about matters other than your hatred of devolution, Welsh language or Plaid Cymru.
    The idiocy of trying to make rhetorical capital out of this issue is quite amazing.
    Can you please enforce a relevance rule so that these cranks either stick to the topic or stay away?
    Back to the topic in question - Swine flu and the costs of treating it. I recall Foot and Mouth was Assembly-devolved in terms of enforcment of welsh-specific measures (which were generally agreed, by the way, to have been better dealt with than across Offa's Dyke), but that the cash to do so was part of the UK-wide emergency fund. Is Swine flu similar or different?
    I don't expect Stonemason and co to be interested in such a piffling subject as the causes and treatment of a virus which is killing people (not when there's the Welsh Assembly to slag off, and all those swinish devolutionists...), but perhaps some of your other contributors can enlighten us? I mean, after all, that was the topic of Betsan's post...

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  • 24. At 8:57pm on 03 Jul 2009, Snoutsintrough wrote:

    Look Dave the post was about King Rhodri applying on behalf of the Self Determination Party (In charge in Bay) for some dosh from the hated english who used to have plenty (pinched all our money see) but dont any more. The money is in wales for vaccination etc,so thats not the issue,except its been used for "party political" programmes tp keep current gang in power. What about the "little" air company that gets "dosh" to fly "little" people,but who so important from North Wales to Cardiff.Surely cheaper to manage North Wales from Mersyside/Manchester rather than Cardiff. Nows there savings already.

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  • 25. At 9:05pm on 03 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    Cannot read obviously, or is it a case of ignoring the issue .....

    ..... so publicly, demonstrate good governance and protect the whole population, there's only 3 million of us, and this is what you are elected and paid to do.

    Not something the inept coalition are proficient at, good governance that is.

    Much like would be politicians who fail.

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  • 26. At 9:54pm on 03 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 24

    Why do you lot consistently refer to the 'hated English'? Do you actually have a problem with them?

    And why North Wales with a capital 'N'? It's only a region of Wales, it's not North Korea!!

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  • 27. At 11:48pm on 03 Jul 2009, daverodway wrote:

    Sorry Lord B, but in what way is money that is centrally collected (i.e. by the British state) 'English'? What proof do you have that that money is 'English'? Since Wales can;t raise its own taxes, it's pretty damn hard to tell whose money is whose. I
    The point I am making is that when these big epidemics come along the costs are borne by someone - question is, who? And on what basis. The job is to work out who pays, and not to use a serious and murderous illness for prats to score points in their anti-devolution pathological rants.
    Now, my point is this - Foot and Mouth was a devolved matter, but the treatment of it was funded by the UK state. Not the English (whoever they are), but the Uk - as a unionist you should know that. My question is isn;t it better to work out what basis who pays what than use this serious illness as an excuse to exercise your usual anti-welsh rants?
    And by the way, I agree with FiDafydd - you guys bang on about the "hated English" - a phrase never used by any nationalist on this blog, and only ever used by you. I don;t hate the English. My wife is English and my children are half english. They're also welsh devolutionists,though you'd call them 'nats' and they'd be horrified to read the drivel you write about hating the english. There's no place for anti-English drivel on this blog and you ought to stop using it as a rhetorical tool.
    Argue on whatever merits you have or find something else to do.
    The question remains - who pays for swine flu vaccines, and on what basis is that payment calculated. I ask because I don;t know, and I believe blog discussions should be relevant and specific and should not be used as arenas for monomaniacs.

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  • 28. At 00:02am on 04 Jul 2009, daverodway wrote:

    Sorry snoutsintrough - are you really telling us that the reason Wales is asking for money to combat swine flu is because the Assembly is giving some money to transport links? Are you really that politically and economically illiterate?
    Because if you are it's really not worth staying up, even drunk, to deal with your comments.
    I'm not sure your objection to North Walians travelling to Cardiff counts as a sensible comment - more like a piece of bigoted ranting to me. If you've travelled on Arriva Trains, Virgin, London Midland or Great Western you've travelled on the back of public funding - Arriva and GW with Assembly money. Do you really hate north wales people so much you think they shoudl travel to Cardiff.
    I am learniing a great deal about the unionist faction tonight - they hate north walians, hate welsh speakers, and hate Plaid. So much that they can;t discuss an issue like swine flu without resorting to their vicious prejudice.

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  • 29. At 09:10am on 04 Jul 2009, Snoutsintrough wrote:

    27/28. The pro unionist people on this blog have no problems with our english friends at all,it is the NATS who wish to seperate this "blessed" union of some 500+years.The Assembly gets its money and spends on own priorities and our Junta should set "aside" adequate reserves to cover such things as swine flu,and go cap in hand to HMG at the first sign of "grapeshot". There can be no doubt that trying to run WALES as a stand alone entity is pointless/extremely expensive except to the NATS who have this aim to create a self determining state attached to the powerful english state. The average person does'nt give a fig about political structures/nation building etc,but rather want first class services for their hard earned taxes (the one's who work anyway)and hence support for Tesco et al. Tesco run the services to wales from two distribution centres,one in Chester (obviously for north wales) and two in Gwent (obviously for south wales). Not sure about mid-wales but possibly from both above or Birmingham?. The point is that if one of the most succesful companies in the world provides its level of excellence by practical management and very importantly without NA/WAG why do we need such bodies on an all wales basis? We could then do away with BBC Wales huge political department and spend savings on programmes rather than endless and pointless debate about goings on in Bay of Pointlessness.

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  • 30. At 09:54am on 04 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    An interesting but pointless question .....

    who pays for swine flu vaccines

    ..... as always, it is the taxpayer.

    The taxpayers might like to hear when the inoculations are due to arrive in Wales, what are the plans for distribution, reassurance that contingency plans have been formulated to maintain the emergency services etc.

    #29, "Bay of Pointlessness", classic observation.

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  • 31. At 12:18pm on 04 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 30

    ""Bay of Pointlessness", classic observation."

    Little things, please little ...etc.

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  • 32. At 12:52pm on 04 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    No answer to the questions then. So here is another few. How large should the reserves be as a percentage of the annual spend? What if the budget for the inoculations (when we have a reliable vaccine) and the anti viral exceeds that? Should the English Health Ministry get money from the Treasury over and above their current allocation? If so should Wales get the same? If not why not?

    I don't think the Welsh Government is asking for anything special, just a needs based injection of cash to deal with an exceptional circumstance.

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  • 33. At 1:56pm on 04 Jul 2009, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    Could it be you are all talking rubbish anyway. Perhapes you are all listening to much to Government propaganda. When we are talking and worrying about Swine Flu our minds are taken off the Governments dificulties, or so they would like to believe.

    Even experts are saying the Government is way overestimating the supposed deaths attributed to the flu virus

    What do you think of this then.

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  • 34. At 3:24pm on 04 Jul 2009, legendaryavocet wrote:

    Good governance is all about responsible spending priorities.

    WAG's priority is funding nation-building, and cultural projects such as the £152,000 from 2005-2009 they sent to Patagonia to promote the Welsh language there. Likewise the £290,000 they spent on the Celtic Festival in 2008 at Lorient in Brittany. (Source WAG website FOI disclosures) That is why all our services are failing when compared to the rest of the UK.

    Is it not time that the Assembly used more effectively and efficiently the powers that it has, and started prioritising taxpayers money wisely to the benefit of all Welsh people, before demanding more powers for themselves?

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  • 35. At 3:30pm on 04 Jul 2009, Notonationalism wrote:

    It doesn't take WAG long to get out the begging bowl, does it? I wonder whether the EU is watching and wondering how long it will be before our mendicant Welsh Government, having freed itself from the shackles of UK government economic support, comes running to Brussels.

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  • 36. At 4:21pm on 04 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    A flue pandemic in 2009? nothing exceptional about this, its just logistics .....

    .... the right amount of vaccine in time,
    .... prioritising vaccination,
    .... getting everyone vaccinated in time,
    .... the right number of coffins and disposal,

    ..... and with 8,577 pounds sterling per head in Wales, 30 million is chicken feed.

    With good governance the local and health authorities will take care of everything.

    As far as costs go, 20 - 30 million is not so much, one or two quangos closed for a year would fix it, no begging bowl needed, I think it's called good management.

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  • 37. At 4:51pm on 04 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Total culture budget is something like 1.5% of the budget for the Welsh Government. It creates wealth and enriches us all, if not financially then culturally. Cutting out a few quangos for a year would save money, but who would do their work, and who would pay for it? The work would need to be done, other than a few board members part time salaries the costs would be there. I know Stonemason wants to close organisations like the sports council and its facilities and wants all public money withdrawn from the National Museum but I think most reasonable people would agree that those institutions do a good job, even if they were part of early 20th century National Building!

    Potentially this pandemic could be very very costly. If its expenditure over and above what is normally allowed for, and if similar expenditure in England results in the English Health Ministry getting more money from the Treasury then the same should happen to Wales. Or are people saying that English ministries should get extra money and Welsh ones not?

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  • 38. At 5:34pm on 04 Jul 2009, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    Why don't you just read this, or does it distract from your petty little language and Assembly bashing

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  • 39. At 6:19pm on 04 Jul 2009, Snoutsintrough wrote:

    37 Lyn. We agree!!!If the English get more money so will we as part of Barnett formular which is based on us getting given % over and above english allocation. My point was that King Rhodri had "asked" for more without any evidence that our friends were also getting more. Been away and clicked on First Minister's "question time" today and what a dreary/boring/pathetic performance by all involved. The Ministers/AM's sitting there also looked as though they were otherwise engaged in this charade. Followed for 5 minutes (all I could stand) by Dr. Gibbon who is undoubtedly a "good man" with honourable intentions,however he could "bore" for the UK if the Self Determining Party allowed him under One Wales Agreement!!!.Just looking for Uzbekistan's debating chamber on internet as it must be more interesting even without translation facilities.

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  • 40. At 6:39pm on 04 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    I wasn't just thinking of culture, though closing all culture related quangos for two years would work, your 1.5% of budget equates to approximately 225 million pounds sterling each year, that's a lot of money. At each quango leave a chair, assistant and a couple of admin staff to answer the telephone and mail, a simple message would be "call back in 2011".

    Attributing your thoughts to my preferences is akin to divination, was it geomancy, extispicy or simply by runecasting ?

    To put your mind at rest, I am quite sure Westminster will do as it always does, deal fairly with the whole UK population, everyone getting their just deserts, as we do every year via Barnett.

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  • 41. At 8:19pm on 04 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    So essentially the quango's work, what ever public service is carries out would be canceled. Good to know that your answer is to cut. You object to the National Museum getting state money, you stated it should pay for its self from its door monies, thus given that it has never survived on the door takings (now abolished) without state aid it would close. You stated that the government has no business subsidising hobbies, thus you objected to the sports council running facilities. So they would close too. And by logical extension so would the arts council and the sports council as you seem to have objected to public money going on these "hobby" areas.

    Sorry but your cuts just seem to be vindictive.

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  • 42. At 8:37pm on 04 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    Only temporary, as once said, half a loaf is better than none. Though if the Sports Council could sell its subsidiary businesses so much the better during these hard times.

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  • 43. At 01:07am on 05 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 40

    Tell you what, why don't we just not spend any money on the immoral killing machine that is the defence budget for a couple of years (at least). We could leave a couple of toff generals to man the phones for that period; with smaller salaries of course.

    But perhaps the Stonemason believes that killing is a necessary part of the state's role, and we must continue to finance it without question.

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  • 44. At 07:31am on 05 Jul 2009, Benedek wrote:

    Whoever wins the UK election in 2010 will have to introduce major cuts in government expenditure over the next two Parliaments. This will obviously be reflected in the budget of the Assembly which will have to look very carefully at its expenditure patterns. This is a fact that seems to be ignored by so many Nationalists who find it much easier to blame all of the problems on either New Labour or the nasty Tories. This might be easier than thinking about expenditure priorities in the future but it is also a receipe for disaster. Instead of moaning about the amount of money needed for swine flu Rhodri Morgan and his ministers should be getting on with the job of running Wales and planning for the future after 2010. Today's Sunday papers are full of stories about civil servants setting out the cuts scenarios for after 2010. You can bet your bottom dollar that someone in Whitehall has already worked out what the Assembly will get. Politically Morgan's letter about swine flu was inept because it confirms to Treasury civil servants that the Assembly is full of politicians who have wasted much of the extra money provided by the UK government over the past 10 years.

    Unfortunately for Wales we are not exactly awash with talented politicians prepared to tell the electorate the truth and with the ability to look outside of the box. Instead we have too many in the Plaid/ Labour coalition who are still stuck in the 20th century and don't realise tha the world has moved on. For them it is all a simple matter of no cuts and increased taxes on the rich. The only problem with this is that taxes just on the rich will not stabilise the UK finances. Anyone who believes this should read John Kay's important article in the FT on June 30th. For 10 years the mediocre politicians who dominate the Assembly have had it easy. The next 10 years will require real decisions and not just speeches at conference talking about making the Welsh pound go further.

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  • 45. At 08:00am on 05 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    A Danish conservative party once had a policy that recognised that practical defense of Denmark was impossible and suggested that the armed forces and the Ministry of Defense be replaced with an answer phone messages saying "we surrender".

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  • 46. At 08:07am on 05 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    I love the way that certain Tories here relish the idea of deep cuts. These will hurt and no doubt lots of things will go to the wall - it will economically damage Wales if we have to make cuts - and I don't see how any area can be left unaffected if they get their way. This will create real hardship, it will leave less money for front line services including health, and will make poor people even poorer. Arts and culture are not an optional add on - to be cut at the first sight of economic problems. Arts and culture employ thousands of people and generate hundreds of millions to the economy of Wales. If the cuts are on the scale envisaged then they will suffer too. So what event do people want to cancel? What historic monuments do we want to close? How many people should be sack? What hospitals should we close? What charges should we levy for home care? What universities should we close? What grants to industry should be withdrawn? How much should we charge students for their education? How much should we cut the grants to local authorities (bearing in mind the council tax is lower in Wales than in England).... I could go on.

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  • 47. At 08:56am on 05 Jul 2009, Snoutsintrough wrote:

    43.Typical of Plaidos in wanting cuts in defence (not killing machine) and in the current world situation of a)failing states b)militant islam c)threats to shipping lanes etc etc. The USA has been defending the europeans for too long and if we wish to keep our freedoms we need to spend more not less and the same goes for Police to catch criminals and deal with the out of control "underclass". 46. I dont think anybody wants to see whats coming,however some of us have been saying for quite a time that the "mad hatters"tea party down Bay of Pointlessness is going to end. If the private sector (where wealth is created) is going through severe contraction and making processes more efficient,why should the vastly overblown public sector in wales not have to face reality. Lets look at current position in that the WAG makes more and more "policy decisions" and then directs them down to LA's (who are too small in wales) who then consider them/refer them back up,further revisions,back down for implementation. Why not get rid of Local Government as now,and replace with effective management organizations to further devolve powers down to beefed up community/town councils. Why do CE's in LA's earn £220K. per year when Prime Minister is earning less than £200K?. What about S4C getting 50% cut as its a joke!!!. Welsh Language Board 80% cut and virtually no body would notice,except fanatics who want jobs on welsh language "gravy train". What Benedek stated is spot on as if there aint a proper re-arranging of public expenditure by HMG the "markets" will sort it out and IMF will impose real cuts as in 70's. I accept that I will be worse off in next 10 years in relative terms and as long as the "pain" is shared down the whole spine of society then OK. That wont happen in wales as King Rhodri who what ever his "failings",aint dull and he knows the future and has already talked about "re-engineering" the public sector to protect the vulnerable!!!.

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  • 48. At 09:22am on 05 Jul 2009, -Drachenfyre- wrote:

    Every nation-state has a moral imperative to see to its own defense, even small nations. To suggest that just because a nation is small it should abrogate its moral imperative because the challenge of maintaining its defense is daunting is a gross surrender to tyranny and rule by foreign governments. I hope that the Danish conservative party Lyn wrote of never acquired much of a following. It is the responsibility of small nations to form alliances of mutual defense to preserve their way of life.

    Lyn Thomas does have the right of it. Even in this tough economic environment objectively cutting cultural and artistic programs in Wales is short sighted. I suspect BritNats and Unionists will seek to cut funding for culture and the arts because for them their culture and artistic expression in not centered in Wales, but in London. There do they see their cultural identity, and therefore they see no value with the Assembly maintaining any funding whatsoever for culture and art generated in Wales (from which ever language). This is why they criticize spending any funds in maintaining cultural links with the Welsh of Patagonia. I wonder too if they would criticize Welsh participation in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival held on the National Mall in Washington DC in June, the Wales Smithsonian Cymru. The event highlighted Welsh American interest in Wales and Welsh culture, including language.

    While tough economic times will necessitate tighter budgets, there should not be any knee jerk reaction to unilaterally cut culture and arts funding.

    Wales is truly handicapped because of its Union with England. Had Wales historically remained independent, and then a Welsh gentry class would have acquired wealth to invest domestically in Wales, then internationally, and building a thriving middle class. Profits from the vast Welsh woodlands could have been sold to England for England to build its navy fleet, and later coal from the Welsh valleys could have been sold to England as England carved out its vast Empire. Today, wind and hydroelectric power generated in Wales could be sold to the international electric market, cutting the utility cost for the average Welshman while generating a profit to reinvest in the Welsh economy.

    All of these investments would have benefited from a Wales stock market.

    It is still not too late for Wales to gain its independence and invest in its own infrastructure, attract sustainable business and catering to niche markets who find Waless centralized location to England desirable. Wales needs a Welsh stock market, and an independent government wholly and completely answerable to the Welsh electorate that would have the lines of authority to craft a Wales specific strategy for dealing with the economic crisis.

    No happy union for the Welsh in this unhappy economic environment.

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  • 49. At 11:10am on 05 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    In today's Sunday Times .....

    ...... plans for 20% cuts in public spending are being prepared by senior civil servants, who fear politicians are failing to confront the scale of the budget black hole.

    Would like to respond Lyn_Thomas, but the girls insist I spend my birthday with them.

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  • 50. At 12:53pm on 05 Jul 2009, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    Undoubtedly cuts are coming, substantial cuts. The Whitehall mandarins are preparing for 20% cuts in public expenditure. It looks like a public pay freeze is on the cards. The proximity of the general election is the reason why the two main parties are soft talking the whole idea. Looking to their main interest, as usual.

    The UK is in recession, the deepest since the 1930s. Its nature is unprecedented. The banking system collapsed, and had to be rescued by the taxpayer, lest the entire economy and service infrastructure collapsed with it. Had that happened there would have been mass unemployment and public disorder the like of which Britain hasn't ever experienced. We faced an abyss. It isn't certain that we have yet avoided it.

    What lies at the root of the problem? Simply put, western economies, primarily those of the US and UK under Bush and Blair, threw financial caution and regulation to the wind. Money created more money to be borrowed and lent, when material resources remained more or less the same. It resulted in soaring property prices and levels of debt which couldn't be sustained. In essence, prosperity built on paper. Then reality hit.

    Now we have to repay that debt, on top of rebuilding confidence where trust has been eroded. Borrowing vast sums to do so seems illogical, when the debt mountain is so immense. Gordon Brown and Darling have borrowed more money, in our name, than ever in peacetime. It took 60 years to repay the debt of WWII. Common sense indicates that servicing this debt will be a drain on the economy for at least a decade, which will slow its growth and extend the effects of recession. I expect hard times - for most of us - for the foreseeable future.

    In recession the poor always get hit the hardest. The price of necessities rise with inflation and their low income fails to keep pace.
    Regrettably, Wales will suffer more than most other parts of the UK, as it is relatively poor. Its government in Cardiff will not have the necessary levers of power to generate investment and develop Wales' economy. That power remains at Westminster, where history has shown time and again, that most of the wealth generated will end up in London and the south east of England.

    If we are to break this perpetual cycle of deprivation, then Wales needs self-determination. Its no use complaining about it. The remedy lies in our hands when we mark that ballot paper with an X. We can stay as we are, struggling from one crisis to another, dependent on others who have consistently failed us, or we can move on with a new confidence in ourselves as a people and a nation.

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  • 51. At 7:37pm on 05 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    ..... yes get rid of the quangos, every last one, keep the head to present a case for its reinstatement, not a case to the Assembly, a case to the public, and quangos are called Assembly Government Sponsored Bodies, 12 of them, and then there are the Advisory Assembly Government Sponsored Bodies, another 14. The people of Wales can make their own minds up what is worth keeping, while Mrs Jones of any-town finds it difficult to get an appointment at the hospital.


    How much should we cut

    10% now, right across the board, to be reviewed following the election.

    ..... better to have hard times for a while than continue to live in la-la land with the money printing machine.

    The Plaid-Labour coalition have forgotten that the private sector are the base of the financial house of cards, the private sector has a permanent hump carrying the public sector, time to call in the changes. A pay freeze goes without saying, in all the public sectors, no exceptions.

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  • 52. At 9:08pm on 05 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 51

    And you no doubt believe that the effects of a pay cut on an NHS cleaner will cause no more hardship than it would on an Eton and Oxford educated thug of a toff who now happens to be leader of the Conservative Party?

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  • 53. At 9:27pm on 05 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    So close 10% of the hospitals, sack 10% of the GPs, Cut funding to local authorities by 10%. Stop all the work of all quangos and sack all their staff. Switch off 10% off the lights on the motorway, abandon all new road works for a year. Withdraw 10% of all subsidies to the railways. Cut grants to industry by 10%, need I go on?

    10% cuts in all expenditure is no answer, you need to be specific.

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  • 54. At 11:02pm on 05 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    I certainly do not need to be specific, being outwith government, but I commend to you the following from the Times today .....

    The two architects of Canadas programme review, Jocelyne Bourgon, who was the country's top civil servant, and Marcel Masse, a former minister, cut 47,000 civil service jobs. Under the programme review, ministers and officials were required to assess all the activities of the government "to identify those that no longer served a national purpose or could be delivered more efficiently through other means". Subsidies were cut, particularly for transport and agriculture, and many of the activities of government departments were scrapped, pared back or transferred to the private sector.

    An excellent framework, but it takes time to set up, in the meantime a 10% cut across the board.


    To describe David Cameron as an Eton and Oxford educated thug of a toff is what I might expect from a Nationalist on the slippery slope to loosing an argument.

    The bottom line is "you cannot spend what you do not have, and until Mrs Jones of any-town gets an appointment at the hospital the NHS cleaners job is probably in jeopardy through foolhardy government spending." A reminder, 8,577 pounds sterling per head in Wales is the annual budget.

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  • 55. At 00:23am on 06 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 54

    So it's dirtier hospitals that will answer the economic crisis?

    To state that Cameron is an Eton and Oxford educated toff is a matter of fact. In my opinion, membership of the Bullingdon Club makes you a grade one thug, though not the type of course that the Establishment would allow anyone to slap an ASBO on them. It's leadership of the Conservative Party for that lot - with silver spoons conveniently in place. And thanks to their school and university chums running amok in the City of London and in the board rooms of multi-national banks, it WILL be the NHS cleaner who will have to suffer.

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  • 56. At 06:36am on 06 Jul 2009, Neocromwellian wrote:

    Quangos who no longer carry out their functions effectively should be scrapped and their work made more accountable to the public and not the state.

    There has been a creeping deregulation that has removed the power of the Auditor General for Wales to intervene to safeguard the public purse in areas of public service.

    To create a situation whereby the government has no jurisdiction what so ever over how our money is spent is like giving MP's and AM's carte blanche with an expense account!

    The discovery of what they have been up to is going to cause a lot of damage but as with the expenses scandal, regulation and new rules will lead to a change for the better.

    From the saving we need to prepare for unforeseen emergencies such as swine flu.

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  • 57. At 07:54am on 06 Jul 2009, andrewlye wrote:

    As has been clearly spelt out, health is a wholly devolved issue to the WAG.
    People in England complain that they don't get free prescriptions as the people of Wales do.
    Being in politics means having to make tough decisions and thats in the good and bad times.
    So I'm sorry Rhodri, but how Wales (and the WAG) responds to H1N1 is up to him and his administration and we look to YOU to provide the leadership.
    On this issue, we look to Cardiff to provide the answer (and funding), not Alastair Darling.
    You wanted devolution and I am sure Alastair Darling will remind you that you have got it.
    Now Rhodri, give us the Leadership we are looking for from the WAG. If we can see you are responsible, why can't you?
    If you can't, maybe its time to go as its not a time for dithering if the UK is to see 100,000 people a day "possibly" catching it, within a matter of weeks as the UK Health Secretary has warned, might happen.

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  • 58. At 08:00am on 06 Jul 2009, Snoutsintrough wrote:

    55 Fi.. You must get out more and not worry so much about Mr. Cameron who is fine and upstanding member of society. Much rather have him in charge than the "country solicitor",or BBC Wales's favourite politician i.e. HMJ.You might be aware that the City of London is the ONLY reason for last 10 years for the fantastic growth in public expenditure here in wales because of the tax receipts generated there by the private sector. Why do you think that the cuts will fall on "cleaners",who are vital front line service providers,rather than the overpopulated parts of public sector,such as BBC Wales/S4C/WLB/NHS Managers etc etc. Just look in Western Mail/Guardian for pure waste of money. Recent job advertised "Equal Opportunities Manager" Fire Brigade in wales. Some of the money saved could be diverted to clean up this country and also pass down powers to community/town councils to employ local contractors on basic services,rather than hughely expensive LA' providers.This should be opportunity to re-arrange provision of services to more "bread and butter" rather than the expensive charade we have now.!!

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  • 59. At 09:00am on 06 Jul 2009, Benedek wrote:

    Peter Hain's phrase 'prudence with a conscience' shows for the first time a Labour politician in Wales agreeing that there will have to be cuts after 2010. Where those cuts will fall in devolved areas will of course be the responsiblity of Assembly politicians and their advisers. Lyn Thomas's nightmare scenario of 10% cuts across the board will occur,however, unless the Assembly faces up to the reality of the next 7 years and decides to plan to protect its priorities. Protecting priorities will of course mean greater cuts in other areas. What should worry everyone is the KPMG survey of leading civil servants in 6 countries which shows that the UK's civil servants are the least prepared to rethink their strategies. If this is the case then this is a receipe for slash and burn as the public sector finances are stabilised.There are savings to be made which will not harm anyone if those in power plan for the real future and not hope for something to turn up. But in order to do this politicians have to be brave and stand up to the vested interests no matter how loud they shout. It is clear for example that with the rejection of the 1 % payover in local government there will be a wage freeze for local government employees this year. We should be having a debate about where the cuts will occur in Wales not throwing childish insults at the Tories or anyone else.

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  • 60. At 10:27am on 06 Jul 2009, penddu wrote:

    The reality of the current devolotion settlement is that the Welsh budget will be automatically cut because of the Barnett formula.

    If UK government makes say 10% cuts in defence spending, then this will not affect Welsh budget. But if UK government makes 10% cuts in Health and Education, then Welsh block grant will be decreased accordingly.

    It is then up to WAG where to apply these cuts - it does not have to be ins ame field so we could for example only make 5% cuts in Health and Education but 50% cuts in Economic development (Not saying they will or shoud - just trying to demonstrate the point).

    The only thing that is certain is that there will have to be cuts somewhere.

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  • 61. At 10:48am on 06 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 60

    Of course there will be cuts. I'm just glad that it will be WAG deciding where this time, and not John Redwood.

    But to pretend that everyone will suffer equally is nonsense and dishonest. Millionaires will hardly notice.

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  • 62. At 11:41am on 06 Jul 2009, penddu wrote:

    61 'Millionaires will hardly notice.'

    Phew - I was worried for a while....

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  • 63. At 5:47pm on 06 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    Do we have any millionaires left in Wales, or did they jump across Offa's Dyke following the Labour-Plaid handshake, sorry coalition.

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  • 64. At 7:04pm on 06 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    To return to #55, FiDafydd wrote .....

    So it's dirtier hospitals that will answer the economic crisis?

    He conclude with .....

    it WILL be the NHS cleaner who will have to suffer.

    Not a word about the patients, not a word as to how savings might be made ..... providing best value for taxpayers should be the aim of every health employee, that includes politicians, I read about poor vision and leadership in this service. I recognise a need for good Conservative government, not long to wait.

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  • 65. At 8:09pm on 06 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 64

    ... a year is a long time in politics; I wouldn't count your chickens just yet . I know you Tories believe that you have a God-given right to rule - but let's wait for a vote first, shall we? Some silver spoons don't guarantee a Tory victory. Even now.

    The NHS needs cleaners and porters - and they deserve a fair living wage. I've said it already, spend 50% less on the killing machine that is the defence industry, and that would be a big, big help. No more illegal wars might be a good idea as well.

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  • 66. At 10:22pm on 06 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    This mason does not do god, given or otherwise, neither do I do chicken, unless it is roast.

    Defence is under review, if you have any issues take it up with your MP, it's not devolved thank goodness.

    All public sector employees might be important, just as it is important to ask the question "do we need all these people?"

    There is an enquiry related to the Iraq war, that will determine its legality not your sound bites. The Afghan operations are without a doubt legal.

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  • 67. At 10:39pm on 06 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Well as the NHS suffered badly under the Tories they have a lot to live down. Yes value for money is important, but what is value for money? Not the cheapest tender - loads of experience of how bad that has been - actually the gradual privatisation of services in the NHS shows just how bad an idea that is. Reduced wages, reduced quality of service, reduced skills but undercutting those that actually delivered a quality job. Fortunately the Tories writ will not run in Wales as far as the NHS is concerned. A UK general election win by them will not result in them running the NHS in Wales, true the Barnett Formula will have its knock on effect but the more market changes they seem to favour in England will not happen here.

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  • 68. At 06:06am on 07 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:

    It is difficult to prevent the spread of good management, Offa's Dyke will not be defence against innovation, but more to the point, inequalities across boundaries when when made known to the public will increase the demand for equality.

    The NHS has suffered very badly under the Plaid-Labour coalition, a simple reason, no direction.

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  • 69. At 07:39am on 07 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Can you give example of how the NHS has suffered since the coalition has come into existence? Can you give examples of bad management and of good management this side and the other side of the border? Prior to the coalition Labour were in the process of massive reorganisation of hospital provision that all opposition parties opposed, canceling those changes is an example of leadership in response to what people want.

    Stonemason you are sloganeering - rather than be a cheer leader for Cameron, who will not be running the NHS in Wales, please tell us how you think it should be managed?

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  • 70. At 08:22am on 07 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 69

    Well said! Sadly, however, in my experience, Stonemason doesn't really like to answer inconvenient questions.

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  • 71. At 00:19am on 08 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 70

    Told you...!

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  • 72. At 06:17am on 08 Jul 2009, John Henry wrote:


    Filthy wards remaining filthy.

    A personal stay plus observations of a relative during her hospital experience.

    Cleanliness is a management responsibility, this management extends to WAG.

    Plaid are as responsible as every other AM in Cardiff, unless an identifiable stand was recorded by an individual, the occupants of the Bay of Plenty have been responsible through inept posturing when leadership was needed.

    Point #71, I don't trawl though old blog entries looking for Plaid nonsense, generally preferring to move forward as Betsan drives the blog onwards, looking back is a Plaid phenomena, looking forward an attribute of the Union.

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  • 73. At 07:45am on 08 Jul 2009, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    I rather thought clenliness had improved, unlike in England where privatisation of cleaning has driven down standards. However you produce only anecdotal evidence. And to claim that the opposition are responsible is clearly delusional, next you will be saying that Cameron bears responsibility for all the ills of Labour in London.
    In short you are just producing hot air on this one.

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  • 74. At 08:31am on 08 Jul 2009, FiDafydd wrote:

    Re 73

    Quite so.

    However, thank you Stonemason for the best joke of the week (any week really!):

    "...looking forward an attribute of the Union"

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  • 75. At 10:27am on 08 Jul 2009, Bryn_Teilo wrote:

    #66 TheStonemason wrote:

    'The Afghan operations are without a doubt legal.'

    Legality is not something UK or former British governments have been too concerned about in the past, when it comes to armed conflict.

    Although ISAF forces (consisting largely of NATO members) have UN authorisation, one has to bear in mind that the UN Security Council itself is dominated by members of NATO - the US, UK and France. In the last extension of the mandate (UN Security Council Resolution 1776 (2007) Russia abstained. In reality the brunt of the military action is borne by the US and the UK.

    Switzerland, South Korea and Serbia have already withdrawn their personnel. The Netherlands has announced it will begin to withdraw its forces in July 2010, and Canada will withdraw the bulk of its forces in 2011, saying that a decade of war is enough.

    Undoubtedly US foreign policy in the ME has been responsible for the antagonism felt towards it in many Islamic countries, and to the terror attacks which resulted in the invasion of Afghanistan. Whilst the latter can only be utterly condemned, nevertheless, the US needs to adjust its own attitudes and policies towards the ME, particularly Israel and the Palestinians, if ever a peaceful solution is to be found.

    In my opinion, the answer is not military conflict. Certainly not a war which cannot be won. The longer it goes on, the more difficult it will be to find peace. The supposed objective of the current surge under Obama's direction, is to stabilise the country prior to the forthcoming elections, so that Hamid Karzai's regime can recover some democratic credibility. So far it has been plagued by accusations of corruption. The production and export of heroin has exploded. One effect of expansion of military operations will be the killing of more innocent civilians - already a serious issue. Afghanistan has a population of 28 million - a large pool of potential insurgents, without taking Pakistan into consideration.

    The war shows no sign of any conclusion. Its escalating in the same way as the USSR's conflict 30 years ago. It may be UN authorised, but its foolish, immoral, expensive and doomed to failure. How many lives is it going to cost before the White House and Downing Street come to their senses?

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  • 76. At 4:36pm on 14 Jul 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 69....

    Question from that message...

    "Can you give example of how the NHS has suffered since the coalition has come into existence?"

    I will give one answer, in two examples, to that.

    MY wife is a manager in the finance department of the NHS.

    Not that I am a Tory supporter, as Stoney and others can assure you, but under the Tory regime 1979 to 1997, there were TWO 're-organisations', that is over 18 years, they cost quite large sum, I am told.

    Introduced was budgetary controls, not that I say there were non prior to '79, however, they seem to have been relatively ineffective when compared to post 1997.

    Since 1997, twelve years, (nearly) there have been FIVE
    're-organisations', each one, in some way, altering what the previous one brought in. Often reverting to prior arrangements, or reversing the same, entirely.

    My wife's department has been shuttled from one health authority to another, currently, without moving a metre from where she sat under the previous authority, she is employed at Mamhilad, in Gwent, where previously she was working for Gwent Health Authority, she now is in the employ of Powys Health, and may soon be under the wing of yet another authority or 'Trust'.

    All of which cost far more than then two efforts between '79 and '97.

    At the moment, there is another 're-organisation' pending. Whether it will actually take place is anyone's guess, in the present fiscal climate.

    That is in just one department of the Welsh NHS, but what about the Ambulance service, totally mucked up, and only just coming to any sort of realistic operating pattern of health.

    With ambulances being centrally controlled, resulting in vehicles being dispatched to Aber-something in north Wales, when they should have gone to west Wales.

    A total and very costly farce of a situation, brought about by incompetence directed by the Assembly, who obviously had not the slightest idea of how to run either a financially, or technologically, competent service which, by it's very nature, the ambulance service should, but more importantly, MUST be.

    Care to turn those two prime, very expensive examples aside as not applicable to either the NHS (Wales), or the Assembly?

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  • 77. At 4:43pm on 14 Jul 2009, mapexx wrote:

    message 76...correction

    "......when compared to post 1997....."

    The line should have read ...

    "....when compared to 1979...."

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