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Days of "disinvestment"

Betsan Powys | 07:00 UK time, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

I never did study Franz Kafka's work, though a course analysing his work was offered to the young and keen student of German that I was many years ago. I'd had a stab at the first few pages of Die Verwandlung/Metamorphosis and baulked at the sentences that seemed never to stop until they suddenly did, with an unexpected bang.

Today's report from the Wales Audit Office may be just 36 pages long and the construction of its sentences infinitely easier to follow but in its doom laden tones it has more in common with Kafka, that dark theorist of intractable bureaucracy, than the dispassionate public auditor.

It's a no-holds-barred examination of the public sector,just where we are and where we need to get to in terms of reform. It makes for pretty grim reading and will send a shiver down the spine of public sector workers and management.

In her foreword, the Auditor General, Gillian Body, says that the impending squeeze means if public sector bodies carry on with business as usual "they will simply run out of money". There. I told you the sentences were shorter .

The analysis couldn't be simpler but the medicine, I imagine, will be very hard to stomach. Perhaps the key phrase in the report is this: "In considering disinvestment, public services will need to identify novel ways of reducing their staffing bills."

It certainly adds another euphemism - "disinvestment" - to the ongoing "when is a cut an efficiency saving and vice versa" argument.

There's been some surprise among economists that unemployment hasn't risen higher during the recession. The most common answer put forward has been that many employees have accepted wage freezes or cuts, unpaid holidays, or a move to temporary part time working. In return the number of redundancies due to the downturn in demand has been kept to a minimum.

The report lays out a truly frightening scenario for an impending public sector spending downturn and looks across to the private sector for solutions in trying to deal with it. Why, the report reasons, since staff costs make up the bulk of public sector spending, shouldn't workers here emulate their private sector counterparts - more flexible working, reduced hours, a move from full to part-time working? This way, says the report, experienced staff can be retained and services can still be delivered.

If you're a worker at a car parts factory, then you might have some sympathy for that. You may already have had to practice what the WAO raise, if not exactly preach, in their report today. But how will it go down with the public sector unions? After all, the PCS is already locked in industrial action with the Government about redundancy entitlements.

You can judge for yourself. Here's the response to the report from Unison: "Transposing a private sector solution to the public sector is fraught with difficulty. The reason why the private sector went to short-time working and reduced hours was a reduction in demand for manufacturing goods etc.

"With the public sector the demand is high and increasing. For example, social care demographics show an increase in demand."

I think that roughly translates as "no thanks".

Yes, the reason why the private sector went to short-time working and reduced hours was a reduction in demand but it was also directly due to a reduction in companies' income. And the public sector, according to the Audit Office's projections, is about to start swimming in exactly the same red coloured ink.

Of course mothballing a production line in a factory means making fewer alternators or car seats. Once demand picks up, it's simple enough to flick a switch and start turning them out again.

What the unions will argue is that stopping, or slowing, a production line in public services - social care, for example - has a very real impact on people. Not as easy to flick the switch when there's a bit more money around either.

The next few years are going to be all about balancing the books. If this is an opening chapter - Kafka or not - it's going to be a long and difficult read.


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  • 1. At 08:09am on 16 Mar 2010, Benedek wrote:

    What's new? The writing has been on the wall for months but most Welsh politicians seem to be in denial. Like Mr Micawber they are hoping something will turn up. What chance have we got when AMs refuse to hold meetings because of the PCS strike? People should also not forget that Unison supported Carwyn Jones in the Labour Leadership election because he promised to protect public services. With at least £1.5 billion to be found in savings and the final figure will probably be higher perhaps Mr Jones could start to tell us what he will protect.

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  • 2. At 08:44am on 16 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    “reduction in demand”…

    …has two possible meanings:
    1) People stopped wanting the product
    2) People couldn’t afford the product.
    Of these the main and overwhelming cause was an inability to pay for the product.

    The demand for goods and services are unlikely to diminish. The ability to pay for them varies. When you can afford them you have them, when you can’t pay for them you don’t get them. This applies to cars and welfare services.

    President Brezhnev had a simple solution in determining cost reduction. He implemented the simple device of sacking the third bureaucrat who turned up for work. The concept was that by removing people randomly there was no alteration of the average standard of ability. And it saved a lot of money!

    The reality is that two reductions will have to be made:
    1) The expectancy of the population
    2) The number of bureaucrats

    If we can’t afford things, then we can’t have them. If we can’t afford bureaucrats we can’t employ them. And bureaucrats will have to adjust to the new reality. We can’t afford as many of them or pay them as much. The AM's could lead the way setting an example by taking a pay cut, say of thirty percentage.

    I had Brezhnev’s email address somewhere. Where did I put it?

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  • 3. At 08:56am on 16 Mar 2010, den wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 08:57am on 16 Mar 2010, den wrote:

    thanks for the article its our pleasure to read about the details

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  • 5. At 10:31am on 16 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    I’ve recieved a reply from President Brezhnev.
    He explained there are two ways of achieving cost reduction.
    1) Immediately cutting out things that you don’t need
    2) Planned reduction in demand

    President Brezhnev decided Russia couldn’t afford the number of bureaucrats it had and there had to be an immediate and dramatic reduction in numbers. I’m not sure we could achieve quite the same thing here in Wales but there are other quick fix things we can do. I have as Mikado said ‘a little list and none of them would be missed’.

    1) AMs could immediately reduce their salaries, as suggested by True Wales, to 1.5 times the Welsh median salary.
    2) Undertake NOT to increase the number of AMs by 20
    3) To suspend the proposed referendum – which I am informed will cost £5,000,000
    4) Stay at Part 3 and save on the ‘fiscally neutral’ extra lawyers at a saving of £1.9 million
    5) Sell the Assembly building and lease, as intended in 1997, a smaller building suited to only 60 and not 80 AMs
    6) End free prescriptions at a cost of £28,000,000
    7) Reduce the cost of the Welsh Language Board from £13,400,000 to £4,000,000
    8) Abandon the LCO on Welsh in the Workplace and the bureaucratic cost of a Commissioner and supporting staff
    9) Dramatically reduce the bureaucrats employed at the Assembly before sacking ONE person who supplies a service to the public.
    10) Cancel IeuanAir at a savings of £800,000
    John Dixon gets annoyed by this suggestion but the importance is not the amount. Cancelling a prestige project that favours, in particular, one Cabinet Minister is symbolic of an intention to cut out all kinds of unnecessary expenditure and waste. If the Cabinet and AMs are unwilling to forego personal benefits then they have no right to ask other people to reduce their benefits or pay.

    The likelihood of any of these happening is utterly remote because it impacts on the personal benefits and status of the Elite at the Assembly. Instead ordinary men and women will be required either to have no increase in pay, a reduction in pay or no pay at all. Factually Wales cannot afford the luxury of a devolved government that has allowed costs to spiral from an estimated £15,000,000 in 1997. Costs are now so huge that the Assembly hides the true cost. When challenged by True Wales to produce the figures Assembly officers demanded the sum as stated by True Wales was withdrawn.

    The costs are slowly being uncovered. Nick Bourne was “staggered” by the £3,800,000 on legal costs, £320,000 on hospitality (we saw on TV the drinks clutched in hands the evening of the ‘trigger’vote) and £700,000 on furniture – a total just short of £5,000,000. But Nick Bourne should have not participated in the £13,000 purchase of new 22” flat screen monitors for AMs instead of opting for a digital converter.

    Betsan, I’ve never read or even tried to read Franz Kafka's work but I can count. More into less won’t go. Something has to go and before any of the people who supply services to the people of Wales go to unemployment we need to see an example set by those who claim to be our elected leaders. To the AMs I say this, lead us with self denial before you ask others to deny.

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  • 6. At 1:29pm on 16 Mar 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    5. Len Gibbs

    Well that's Wales sorted, now what do you propose for England and the UK Government.

    You keep on about free prescriptions. So could you also ask President Brezhnev what is the cost of the extra free prescriptions that were added for those who weren't paying before.

    Because the vast majority of uptake is still from those previously entitled to free prescriptions.

    Such as the young, the elderly and the chronically sick.

    These are normally people who have multiple prescriptions for medication.

    Or are you suggesting that the already poorest and most vulnerable in society make themselves even more poor by paying for them.

    Some can be taking 10, 15, 20 different tablets or medication a day.

    Therefore, unless someone is chronically ill, where they have repeat prescriptions or wanting a one off Antibiotic medication, I can not see many of those added to the free list waiting to put a prescription into their Health Centre. Then waiting 2 days before they are able to get it, can you.

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  • 7. At 2:49pm on 16 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    alfsplace1986 #6

    "England and the UK Government"
    Stop electing Scots as Prime Ministers who take us to war and have a golden rule of making us more or less bankrupt.

    You seem to be a devotee of Konrad Adenauer who said "The art of politics consists in knowing precisely when it is necessary to hit an opponent slightly below the belt."

    My mentor President Brezhnev has worked on the figures and found that the young, the chronically ill and the old were already exempt from paying the prescription charges. The ridiculous thing is that people who were working (and not on benefits) and could afford a part contribution now get their occasional prescriptions for free at a cost of £28,000,000. The absolute nonsense about this is that certain AMs allege that it cost 'almost as much to collect". It never cost £28,000,000 to collector nor anywhere near it.

    I'm willing to make a bargain with the AMs and the 'Yes' campaigners. If they will stop telling lies about True Wales, we will stop telling the truth about them. (Apologises to Adlai Stevenson.)

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  • 8. At 3:01pm on 16 Mar 2010, Crossroads wrote:

    Not sure what all the fuss is about.

    Our Welsh public sector expenditure must be cut by £500 million a year for at least the next 3 years?

    Well you can be sure those scheming, artful, empire-building, public sector 'executives' will increase our suffering by deliberately making the cuts exclusively in front line services so as to make them more noticeable to the public. This rather than cut out the ridiculous and totally unneccesary cost of building, maintaining, and overmanning those daft WAG offices being built all over Wales. This might also be an opportunity to finally get rid of those un-needed 57 'top' Welsh NHS executives who have been sat home, doing nothing on FULL SALARY since the middle of last year..remember those!!!! Lovely work if you can get it !

    Nurses, doctors, firemen, policemen, refuse collectors, teachers etc. You can be sure they'll be the first to be reduced in number. The hundreds of thousands of back-office council/assembly/NHS clerical non-jobs however, who would not be missed by the public, are already being told their jobs are safe....sheer madness!!!!!!

    Though the most painless answer of all is to just scrap the useless spendthrift assembly...That would almost certainly save at least the £500 million a year required, though if the pointless little quangos and "Welsh embassies" (still makes me laugh)were also scrapped, we could well save the entire £1.5 billion in just one year, and with no hardship to the public !

    Too easy though isn't it Betsan ?

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  • 9. At 4:55pm on 16 Mar 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    7. Len Gibbs

    That was my exact point.

    I am afraid you have confused me now.

    Do you mean to say it is costing an extra £28.000.000 for that small extra amount claiming free scripts.

    Or is that the amount including those previously exempt?

    Well that's Wales sorted, now what do you propose for England and the UK Government.

    I mean what is your list for balancing the UK books or do you think it is a case of 'If it is not broke why mend it'?

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  • 10. At 5:12pm on 16 Mar 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    8. Noah_sembly

    Why has it got to be just the Welsh Assembly Government.

    There are billions and billions and billions, how many do you want me to go on to, of pounds of our money wasted every day and has been for decades by the UK Government.

    Nothing is said or criticised about that.

    What money the WAG gets is chicken feed compared to what that Government in London wastes or gives away, which you, me and our grandchildren will be paying for, for decades to come.

    Please let's get the priorities right.

    Ok the Welsh Assembly's not perfect, but I think I would prefer that, with all its flaws, than that corrupt palace in Westminster.

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  • 11. At 5:30pm on 16 Mar 2010, West-Wales wrote:

    Unison has its own furrow to plough.
    Their remit is protecting the Jobs, benefits, and terms of employment of their members - not what is best for Joe Public or the Country.
    Trade Unions are not the best organisations to advise on these matters.

    In Wales about 70% of employment is paid out of the public purse.
    The public purse is empty and the government is juggling its credit cards to maintain its house of cards - in the meantime the banks are seriously considering whether we are a good risk.

    As a Business UK PLC is in trouble - when Blair stepped into Number 10 our economy was No.4 in the world, and rising, - we are now largely thanks to Prudence Brown No.11.
    That's pretty serious, in business the CEO and whole board would be sacked.

    Here in Wales just to pay the basic Admin costs for our devolved government costs £350 million a year.

    On top of that each Devolved Ministry has its own Administration, Offices and organisation, and costs.
    Consider the salaries and expenses of the AM's and the top level Civil Servants many earning over £50Kpa and a lot on over £100Kpa.
    What about the QUANGO's and other N G organisations receiving massive grants, much of which is recycled into pressure groups like Tomorrows Wales.

    The question is;
    Do we need to a separate legislature in Wales.
    Do we want or need this bloated grandiose system, together with the extra laws, constraints, and interference in our lives, as well as the regiments of public officers and pencil pushers to enforce them, - is it worth it, and is it working for us.

    The evidence is it certainly is not working - all studies show the devolved powers are preforming badly, over politicised, and with top heavy administration.
    There is considerable wastage, they do not give value for money, our lives are not better, in many ways worse, with ever more silly constraints.
    Worse there is little or no action, or help, in sorting out the serious problems we have here in Wales.

    Its pretty certain there will be a No vote for "More Powers" - but the real answer for Wales is to get rid of of this current Devolution arrangement, replace it with something more workable.

    The saving would not just be on the costs of the Assembly - but releasing Local Councils, Public Services and Businesses from the bureaucratic madness WAG is spawning.

    The business rate increase is just one example; some business's are facing over 100% rise and many over 40%.

    Spend the hundreds of millions (Billions?) saved on expanding and improving those core services, essential in a civilised country, invest in infrastructure, bring back the WDA.
    Start getting our economy back on its feet, so the people of Wales can earn a living again.

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  • 12. At 5:51pm on 16 Mar 2010, John Dixon wrote:

    Len Gibbs @ no.5,

    "John Dixon gets annoyed by this suggestion"

    I think you should re-read what I said in that particular debate, Len. As in "the example you chose is a poor one; not because you’re necessarily wrong to question the priority given to the North-South air link, but because even if you’re right, one poor decision – or even a series of poor decisions – by the Welsh government of the day does not invalidate the case for self-government"

    Doesn't look like 'annoyed' to me; nor even particularly supportive of the air link. My point was that disagreeing with one or more government decisions is a basis for changing the government, not for abolishing the whole structure. I don't think you'll find anything from me, anywhere, supporting the air link; I just considered it irrelevant to that particular debate.

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  • 13. At 7:18pm on 16 Mar 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    11. West-Wales

    Everything you have said can be said 100 fold of the UK Government.

    As I said in 10.

    What money the WAG gets is chicken feed compared to what that Government in London wastes or gives away, which you, me and our grandchildren will be paying for, for decades to come.

    Please let's get the priorities right.

    Ok the Welsh Assembly's not perfect, but I think I would prefer that, with all its flaws, than that corrupt palace in Westminster.

    Why do you not speak out about them. Or do you hold them in such high regard and awe that you believe everything they do is right.

    Do you realy think Local Councils, Public Services and Businesses were better off under the previous system. If that is the case we should be a very profitable, educated, healthy part of the UK now. Are we.

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  • 14. At 7:26pm on 16 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    alfsplace1986 #9
    No need to be confused the cost is the amount of providing prescriptions to people who would otherwise have paid.

    “list for balancing the UK books”/'If it is not broke why mend it'?

    This is an altogether different subject because the amount of money into the Treasury changes. Wales gets a fixed grant based on Barnett. Knowing the amount means you have to adjust your expenditure to the income. This can be achieved by identifying expenditure that was not included in the original expenditure plans and removing them. The UK is different because the amounts in and out are not as identifiable but the unpalatable fact is that everyone, including Wales, is going to have less and pay more. One of the ways the next Chancellor, whoever he is, will try to balance the books will be by giving us less. And that is why we in Wales are going to have to reduce unnecessary schemes that have no bearing on front-line services.

    Noah_sembly in #8 may be saying things that may be disagreeable to some, but the reality is the remedy will have to include some of the actions he lists. Hard times are ahead.

    alfsplace1986 #10
    In your reply to Noah_sembly you correctly state the waste at Westminster is greater than at Cardiff. But it begs the question. Wales will have a fixed and reduced amount and that will cause hardship to many. Wales has no option but to make swingeing cuts and soon. It is better to get rid of the unnecessary than front-line services.

    John Dixon #12
    “I don't think you'll find anything from me, anywhere, supporting the air link”
    John, I accept your point. And I am sure you accept mine, that I am not advocating a return to 1997.

    However, the airlink is not irrelevant. It should be inconceivable for WAG to use scarce funds to support a means of transport that is known to produce greenhouse gases. Such support removes any moral or political authority when WAG is trying to increase green energy often at the visual expense of people’s living environment. Providing a flight to Anglesey/Cardiff for what can only be the convenience of political figures brings politics and politicians into disrespect. The airlink is one of the subjects that people raise and are highly critical about. How can anyone justify or accept no pay increase or a reduced income or ‘voluntary’ redundancy when they see the self-indulgence of a quicker journey for a privilege few?

    Abolishing the airlink will send a positive signal that no expenditure is a holy cow that cannot be touched.

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  • 15. At 7:56pm on 16 Mar 2010, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    This Westminster is corrupt nonsense constantly cited by the nats, well, our MPs should be so lucky. The wretched assembly is under the friendly scrutiny of the Western Mail, BBC Wales, ITV Wales and S4C!!!!

    Westminster is like a specimen on a slide, studied by the most ferocious press in the World!! The Times, Sun, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Express, Guardian and Daily Mirror et cetera.

    Then we have a non-partisan British Broadcasting Corporation, with the likes of Jeremy Paxman and Jonathan Humphreys sticking their little beaks in. ITV, C4 and C5, are also keen studiers of the Westminster specimen.

    Westminster, is well controlled and under constant supervision, it must stay, the bay parasite has no media supervision, its got to go!!

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  • 16. At 9:50pm on 16 Mar 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:

    14 / 15

    Ah well, no point in commenting, the last two postings speak for themselves. especialy 15s last paragraph

    Westminster good, Assembly bad.

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  • 17. At 10:11pm on 16 Mar 2010, FoDafydd wrote:

    Re 16


    I'm afraid that the Brit nats on this blog are utterly incapable of thinking outside that particular box. Westminster - a place we have seen for its corruption and fiscal incompetence - is infallible in their eyes, and nothing, nothing will change that.

    Westminster puts us in economic freefall, so let's blame the Assembly!! Extraordinary. In other words, their bigotry means they would prefer more of the same from Westminster, and let the people of Wales suffer even more.

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  • 18. At 11:39pm on 16 Mar 2010, Nospin wrote:

    Len Gibbs - i agree with everything you have posted

    Jack Wilkinson - spot on the assembly hasn't a clue what press scrutiny is

    Fodafydd - the only way to "get rid of" westminster is independence - you been on a diet of cadbury's fruit and nut all your life. We haven't the infrastructure, economy, industry or political talent.

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  • 19. At 07:31am on 17 Mar 2010, CA Jones wrote:

    Re: 15

    A not unsurprising addition to the 'Westminster Good, Assembly Bad' school of politics. According to Jack:

    "Westminster is like a specimen on a slide, studied by the most ferocious press in the World!! The Times, Sun, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Express, Guardian and Daily Mirror et cetera. "

    Others beg to differ. Anybody who knows anything about Westminster politics is well aware of how the political journalists have been manipulated by the discredited 'lobby' system, and how skilled manipulators like Alistair Campbell had this 'ferocious press' eating out of his hands.

    Check it out bro':

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  • 20. At 07:41am on 17 Mar 2010, John Henry wrote:

    no-spin has the rights of it, though he didn't mention "will", the overwhelming majority of people are quite happy with the status quo, we have no wish to share the sunderers vision ... simple.

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  • 21. At 08:27am on 17 Mar 2010, alfsplace1986 wrote:


    There are non so blind as those that will not see and none so deaf as those that will not hear.

    When the eveidence is hitting them with a massive concrete ball they still will not accept what is right in front of them.

    Now that is scary!

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  • 22. At 08:32am on 17 Mar 2010, Neocromwellian wrote:

    What we need with these cuts is to open up more of our services and institutions to public scrutiny, consultation and accountability, so we get value for our money and politicians are less able to get away with wasting it.

    I agree with no-spin at 18 but I also agree with CA Jones at 19 but wish to add that when it suited them the WAG jumped on the spin doctoring bandwagon as has Plaid.

    Then in turn I agree with the point that unfortunately this is less likely to be exposed by a less interested media.

    You cannot pick and choose when to hide behind or blame Westminster.

    Moreover, making comparisons between Westminster and Cardiff cuts both ways, either with regard to Westminster being patronising and superior or with sickening self righteous indignation that those in Cardiff Bay are somehow better than them.

    The Assembly needs to start to accept responsibility for this situation and stand on its merits which needs reform before it gets more powers to go the same way as the worst aspects of Westminster.

    In that respect Stoney,

    The Peoples Petition on the Recall of AM's now has the required number of signatures to go through for consideration by the Petitions Committee.

    Hopefully this will lead to the same applying to MP's but its a bit like turkeys voting for an early Christmas.

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  • 23. At 09:08am on 17 Mar 2010, John Henry wrote:

    ... so free will becomes "deaf", sorry alf you will have to do better, only a very small majority share your political aspirations for Wales.

    The topic of this particular offering from Betsan is the future WAG budget and how our disparate coalition will cut the cake, a very generous cake that has grown from during the last 5 years from £12 billion to £15 billion. Don't hold your breath .... I listened to our First Minister yesterday, not even "second division", I'm afraid on that particular performance it is "third division" and not very inspiring, poor Labour, poor people of Wales.

    If our previous WAG's had given Wales value for its taxes, there would be a surplus put aside for rainy days, was it a Billion miss-spent in the Wales NHS, our politicians might like to read the old testament, putting aside during fat years for lean times ... simple.

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  • 24. At 09:14am on 17 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    alfsplace1986 #21
    “Now that is scary!”
    Yes, Alf. No_Spin, Stonemason and myself are very concerned for you. How is it you can’t see the evidence when it is staring you in the face!

    Neocromwellian #22
    “bit like turkeys voting for an early Christmas.”
    But the AMs have. They’ve voted a referendum for ‘full primary legislative power’ in a year when there are going to be massive cuts in public services…except Carwyn won’t allow that to impact the Assembly’s expenditure.

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  • 25. At 09:42am on 17 Mar 2010, John Henry wrote:

    I think the "recall" concept is on the cards with Westminster Neo ... another step in the democratic march, much like getting rid of the rotten boroughs so many years ago.

    Going back to yesterdays performance at the Assembly, I was embarrassed listening to the Jones boy, my father [a lifelong Labour / Aneurin Bevan supporter] must be turning in his grave.

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  • 26. At 10:10am on 17 Mar 2010, Igotitallwrongsorry wrote:

    The term by John Dixon i.e. "Self Government",is a very interesting one,but from my perspective can only mean an INDEPENDENT CYMRU which is of course the ultimate position preferred by PC and its fellow travellers found heavily in BBC CYMRU and S4C. In any national structure the implimentation of services should be as local as possible to reflect the actual position on ground,however it will be increasingly difficult to have totally seperate policies operating throughout the UK via local assemblies/parliaments. The long term divisions these policies will have in the UK are incalculable,however the real"cuts" in public expenditure coming down the line will exacerbate the problem which will be exactly what the NATS want to break up the UK. A retired family member who was Barrister and is just as passionately English as any welsh NAT is welsh stated that the if the Scots/Welsh want independence they should should hold referendum in ENGLAND and they get it within days,and in particular the Scots who seem to run the english. Ithink it is a "given" that welsh matters should be run by welsh organizations are close to people as possible,what we do not need is another group of civil servants find marginal differences to UK policies and seperate systems to boot. Remember the Gas Boiler Scrappage Scheme as Texicans remember the Alamo!!.

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  • 27. At 11:56am on 17 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Stonemason #23
    “from £12 billion to £15 billion”
    The figures are frightening.
    In 1997 when the amount was circa £7 billion Ron Davies, the then Secretary of State for Wales, assured the public that the cost of the Assembly including the rental of a building at £1 million would not exceed £17 million and the cost would be covered by the savings made on abolishing the quangos.

    Update: 2010
    This year it cost nearly £5 million for lawyers, hospitality and furniture and £11.2 million on external consultants, a total of £16 million. Ron Davies said it would only cost £16 million ex-rent for the Assembly and that would be paid for by eliminating the quangos. The quangos cost £220,000,000 this past year – a figure obtained under the freedom of information legislation. By making calculations of other available figures it appears that in addition the Assembly also cost £78,000,000. There’s another £50,000,000 that can’t be identify but you can be assured it has been spent.

    It is not possible to believe or trust either WAG or the AMs in what they say because information is neither open nor transparent. If we were told by the ‘yes’ campaign in 1997 that the Assembly would be ‘fiscally neutral’ (a lovely phrase coined by Sir Emyr Jones Parry about the cost of lawyers under Part 4) how can we believe them now when £17,000,000 has become £78,000,000 plus £220,000,000 and a further but unaccountable £50,000,000?

    I'd like anyone who is regarded as a 'leader' or 'spokesperson' of the 'yes' campaign to refute these figures with audited evidence. How about it Tommorrow's Wales?

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  • 28. At 12:24pm on 17 Mar 2010, John Henry wrote:

    Len, today with the Assembly Member Bethan Jenkins, she spoke of showing solidarity with the workers (civil servants), shoulder to shoulder with the Labour Assembly Members, I waited to hear a little solidarity with the public, the electorate, the taxpayers …

    … fortunately the Conservative Assembly Member who sat next to Jenkins this morning was able to give the assurance that efficient use of taxpayers monies took priority over political alliances between Plaid/Labour Assembly Members and trade unions.

    It doesn't bode well for the little people when their political representatives demonstrate partisan politics to the cost of the Welsh public .....

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  • 29. At 12:55pm on 17 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Stonemason #28
    “little people”
    There’s a lot of us. And of the opinion expressed by Charles de Gaulle, “I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”

    And it is none too soon for “Conservative Assembly Member(s)” to be what they are paid to be. The Official Opposition.

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  • 30. At 12:59pm on 17 Mar 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    You can just hear the neocons salivating at the prospect of deep cuts, there is no way that the proposed cuts deep cuts they want will do anything other than cut services.

    As for the north/south air link, the lie propagated by True Wales and its spokesman here is that it only benefits politicians (and it is suggested that its only one politician in particular) - well that is a lie, the figures suggest that tens of thousands of trips are made by individuals - mainly business usage.

    28 million receipts for prescriptions, at English prescription charges? I think you need to justify your figures.

    There are no plans to increase the size of the National Assembly by 20 members, so a lie from True Wales there.

    Move to a new smaller building, what a waste, what an expense and what can you do with the current building, its only suited for one thing. Lease a building, why more expense.

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  • 31. At 1:59pm on 17 Mar 2010, John Henry wrote:


    Could Charles de Gaulle's "I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians", be a call to arms for a "loyal public opposition" to the lunacy found at the Black Lagoon.

    And as you say, not before time our "Conservative Assembly Member(s) doing what they are paid to be. The Official Opposition." Until very recently they suffered the insult of being tarnished with "anti-Welsh", have they taken heart that the majority of people see the "ant-" label for what it is ... pathetic.

    By the way Len, what is this "neocon" label the sunderers try to attach to any writer who takes an opposing position to them, is it meant to be an insult? You are on your own now Len, out till late.

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  • 32. At 2:26pm on 17 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Lyn David Thomas #30

    “deep cuts”
    No one wants cuts. The size of the cuts will largely depend on how WAG continues to spend our money. This is the time to send shots across the bows. Its to late when the soup kitchens open.

    “tens of thousands”
    The official figures are 28,000 single journeys – 14,000 return journeys at a cost of £57.14 per completed journey.

    “mainly business usage”
    If that really is the case then they should not receive a subsidy from the taxpayer for commercial purposes. In my working life I flew from Cardiff to Liverpool, Leeds/Bradford, Teeside, Newcastle, Glasgow, Belfast, Dublin, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam without any form of subsidy. I paid the full fare and the then inflation adjusted equivalent of £57.14 would not have made a difference to my decision to fly or not to fly. If the subsidy is paid to non-commercial traffic such as family visits then it is improper to provide a subsidy. The reality is that IeuanAir wouldn’t be flying if it weren’t for *W*

    “28 million receipts for prescriptions”
    I’ve got my figures right. It is £28,000,000 and not 28,000,000 individual prescriptions.

    “the size of the National Assembly by 20 members, so a lie from True Wales”
    Read Tomorrow Wales’ manifesto. They intend, when a ‘yes’ vote is won to change the GOWA 2006 to increase the AMs to 80.

    “building, what a waste,”
    I agree with you. £67,000,000. Ron Davies said that the devolved body wouldn’t have one. They don’t need one and they owe the people of Wales the obligation to keep the promise and give us back our money.

    “Lease a building, why more expense.”
    Standard business procedure. Release your capital and allocate a cost to annual charge.

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  • 33. At 3:14pm on 17 Mar 2010, West-Wales wrote:

    Lyn #30

    There are no plans to increase the size of the National Assembly by 20 members, so a lie from True Wales there.

    In 2004 "The Richards Commission" recommended 20 more AM's, if the Assembly were to have "More Powers".
    The report was warmly welcomed by Plaid who see it as the Roadmap for the future of Devolution.
    Once again Lyn you are misrepresenting things.

    As for Ieuan Air this post from Betsan's post "Turbulence ahead?" back in January;

    22. At 10:52am on 26 Jan 2010, Yops wrote:

    I for one will miss this service - and before you ask, I'm a self employed Software Engineer. If I had to guess percentages I'd say it was
    30% private sector
    40% public sector
    30% leisure.
    As I said, this is a guess!!

    Whether we like it or not there are going to be cuts.
    The way to do it, the most cost effective, and least damaging to services. - Would be to take the knife to our bloated Assembly.

    Plenty of useful proposals above, though I would go much further.

    2009 Assembly running costs were 350 Million, with 60 AM's thats 5.8 million per AM.
    Compare that to Westminster's 500 Million with 640 MP's - 0.78 million per MP!!!

    For Starters - lets get rid of the 20 List AM's, those who are only accountable to their party.

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  • 34. At 4:12pm on 17 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Stonemason #31
    “a call to arms”
    True Wales is a call to arms for ordinary people who understand the advantages of belonging to the United Kingdom. There are 9.1 billion reasons and they are all £s.

    "neocon" is a derogatory term meaning ‘new conservatives’ used by the pro-poverty seperatists. Wales, under labour in London and Cardiff have reduced Wales to being poorer in some parts than Eastern European countries. Given the further power of primary law-making they will reduce the whole of Wales in double quick time to being the poorest country in the EU. Greeks will be rich by comparison.

    West-Wales #33
    “the Roadmap for the future of Devolution.”
    I am upfront about that I believe Wales should remain within the UK. The separatists are forever denying their intentions, trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes. The Richards Commission recommended 20 more AM's and both Plaid and Tomorrow’s Wales (if you can spot a difference) warmly welcomed the proposal. The Archbishop of Wales has clearly and publicly stated that when (if) the ‘yes’ vote is secured the GOWA 2006 will be changed to GOWA 2012 to include another 20 AMs. So why do people such as Lyn David Thomas and others continually try to pretend to deny what their leaders intend to do? It doesn’t fool us nor will it fool the electorate when they come to vote.

    “self employed Software Engineer”
    They don’t need a subsidy. They charge all expenses to the client.
    30% private sector – have a few more meals and pints (or is that wine) to cover the £57.14 subsidy.
    40% public sector – the subsidy does not appear on the cost of travel and is a way of hiding the true cost of the Assembly's expense.
    30% leisure!!! Why are we paying for people to have a holiday?
    It’s outrageous.

    Tomos Livingstone of the Western Mail on Feb 13th has given the ‘yes’ campaign advice on “The way to win a referendum”
    get going as soon as possible
    appoint campaign chairs
    a web presence
    fresher faces on board
    Outflank some of the ‘no’ attacks (It will be a long way around.)

    How about telling the truth for a change!

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  • 35. At 09:36am on 18 Mar 2010, John Henry wrote:

    A question of competence, or "how can you agree WAG is ready" ....

    In today's W.M.

    TENS of thousands of pounds from the Assembly Government’s flagship anti- poverty programme were used to provide payments to a manager’s family members, it has been revealed.

    A report from the Wales Audit Office detailed how at least six relatives of Miriam Beard, co-ordinator of Plas Madoc Communities First in Wrexham, were allegedly profiting from money meant to help one of Wales’ poorest communities.

    Wales Audit Office investigators wrote in its report ...

    "The Assembly Government should have responded more effectively to concerns about PMCF brought to its attention by third parties."

    A stink from the woodshed I believe ... down at the WAG ranch ?

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  • 36. At 10:15am on 18 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 37. At 11:42am on 18 Mar 2010, West-Wales wrote:

    Stoney in #35

    Rightly raises the issue of the "TENS of thousands of pounds from the Assembly Government’s flagship anti- poverty programme were misused." and suggests, this is;
    A question of competence, or "how can you agree WAG is ready" ....

    WAG have been aware of this gross misuse of funds for some time and taken no action.
    Worse they do not know if the problem is isolated to this one instance, or if there are others.
    It seems there has been no monitoring or assessment of whether the program was working, or where and how this money was being spent.

    John Dixon @ #12
    Makes the point;
    one poor decision – or even a series of poor decisions – by the Welsh government of the day does not invalidate the case for self-government"

    The findings of the bodies who monitor the performance of the Devolved Services tell us almost nothing the Assembly is responsible for is achieving a required performance, or matching the performance of similar services in the other devolved regions.

    It seems the Assembly have not made just one, or even a series of poor decisions - they made almost no good decisions.

    John Dixon's proposition "the case for Self Government is not invalidated" needs to be explained.

    If he means, the Assembly is competent to run Wales, then that argument is nonsense and would fail any rigorous analysis.
    If he means, We should have our own Government because the Welsh people want it. That's a different argument.

    If he is making the latter case -
    We then have to look at the setup and organisation of the Devolved Government, because the current arrangements are not working and failing the people of Wales.

    The debate should not be about "More Powers" - it should be about, how the Assembly can be reorganised, made workable, and cost effective.

    Its a great pity our Politicians and Media are not getting their teeth into that debate.
    Self interest, or an intellectual bridge too far perhaps.

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  • 38. At 1:46pm on 18 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    West-Wales #37
    “they made almost no good decisions “
    I’m not sure about that.
    I’ll have to think about this…
    I’ll come back to you when (if) I can think of one.

    “John Dixon's proposition "the case for Self Government is not invalidated" needs to be explained.
    If he means, the Assembly is competent to run Wales, then that argument is nonsense and would fail any rigorous analysis.
    If he means, We should have our own Government because the Welsh people want it. That's a different argument.”

    John is right. One poor/bad decision doesn’t invalidate a whole governance system. Probably neither does two, or perhaps even three but there comes a time when the collection of bad/poor decisions and the lack of good ones does. Rod Richards on Dragon’s Eye asked can you remember THREE significant things the Assembly has achieved. It is the lack of striking and important things that is the prime case against the present incumbents of the Lodge on the Black Lagoon. They are very expensive and have not produced much if any thing by way of benefit.

    If you now ask “Can you remember THREE bad/poor things the Assembly has done?” a list leaps to mind. £67,000,000 for a building we were told we wouldn’t get. £800, 000 subsidy for a greenhouse gas form of transport. £28,000,000 for free prescriptions at the expense of the Emergency Ambulance service. You may have your own list. The trouble is that the list is easy extended beyond three.

    May be there are lots of people who want Wales to have its own Government, but at least they owe the remainder of us a competent Government. We don’t have that now.

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  • 39. At 5:43pm on 18 Mar 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Now I didn't have a good thing to say about the previous conservative government when I lived in England. They made a complete mess of the economy, brought a devastating recession, caused massive unemployment, introduced the most decisive and unfair tax ever conceived and sold off the family silver to finance tax cuts for the well off. Now that record of incompetence and disaster didn't get me or others calling for the abolition of Westminster, it got me campaigning for a change of government. Which we got. Perhaps True Wales and the anti assembly people here could campaign for what they really would like - a conservative government in Cardiff.

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  • 40. At 8:24pm on 18 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Lyn David Thomas #39
    True Wales by terms of reference is a cross party group who are campaigning for a better form of devolution…see the True Devolution Charter.

    “a conservative government in Cardiff”
    As a cross party group we have supporters who are conservative, labour and non-aligned. Individuals may campaign for the party of their choice or not at all, but True Wales does not support or campaign for any party in particular.

    My friend Barry Kirk is standing as Captain Beany in Aberavon. He has raised over £500,000 for charity over the years. I’ll probably vote for him…it will raise some cash for charity. Donations always welcomed.

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  • 41. At 08:34am on 19 Mar 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    The True Devolution Charter is nonsense - it is long on words and short on substance. If you disagree with the political decisions being taken in the National Assembly by the Welsh Government work to change the government, that is what I did when I lived in England, I didn't work to abolish the UK parliament or Birmingham City Council.

    True Wales may believe it to be a genuinely cross party grouping, how many Liberal Democrat or Plaid members does it have? To me it seems to consist of lots of conservative people and some maverick labour members, not very cross party. Perhaps you could give a breakdown of its membership?

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  • 42. At 09:32am on 19 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Lyn David Thomas #41
    “work to change the government “
    We are, and not only the government, but the way in which we are governed. The GOWA 2006 is fundamentally flawed and needs review, revision and improvement. A unicameral method of government is fundamentally dangerous and alien to the way we have been governed for hundreds of years. “All power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” When there is an unanimous vote by AMs to give themselves unrestricted power I agree with Charles de Gaulle who said, “I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”

    “a breakdown of its membership”
    Loyal, patriotic Welsh people who, seeing the danger of unfettered power by a political elite, are sounding the alarm to their fellow citizens to wake-up and oppose a grab for unchangeable dangerous power.

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  • 43. At 11:38am on 19 Mar 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Len you do politics a disservice. They did not vote for unlimited power - they voted for a referendum that will give the people of Wales the power to decide if their elected representatives should have power to pass laws within 20 defined fields without having to get permission on a piecemeal basis from Westminster to do so. Its an abuse of language to suggest that is unlimited power.

    I would agree that the GOWA2006 is flawed, the whole LCO process is an impediment to good government. I don't think unicamaralism is wrong, New Zealand, Sweden, Iceland, Norway all seem to function well with unicameral legislative bodies. All of Canada's provinces have unicameral legislatures and again no problems there. If you want a second chamber to the National Assembly campaign for one.

    If there is an example of absolute power in the UK its the UK government, where the Prime Minister controls the composition of one house of parliament and has total control of the business of the commons. The commons is far weaker in power in comparison to the executive than is the National Assembly to the Welsh Government.

    Your answer to the composition of True Wales is inadequate, how many members of Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats are there as members of True Wales?

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  • 44. At 12:26pm on 19 Mar 2010, John Henry wrote:

    LDT writes ...

    Prime Minister .... has total control of the business of the commons

    Not any more, eyes closed fast and our sunderer misses probably the first change at Westminster, myopia methinks.

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  • 45. At 1:16pm on 19 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Lyn David Thomas #43
    “unlimited power”
    It is power without limit because they can initiate and pass any law within the 20 nominated powers they wish without third party scrutiny. And once passed the law is incapable of modification or being rescinded.
    The power includes the ability to replace GOWA 2006 with GOWA 2012 (Archbishop of Wales intention). The new proposed legislation is virtually separation from the UK. That is unlimited power.

    “second chamber to the National Assembly campaign for one”
    Elsewhere I have put the case for a Constitutional Convention to be held before a referendum.

    “how many members”
    This may surprise you. I have never asked as I don’t have the need too. We get new members every week from all over Wales. What political affiliations they have or do not have are of no interest. We are not short of money because of people’s subscriptions and donations. As you ask, lots of members and growing day by day.

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  • 46. At 1:28pm on 19 Mar 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Please stop using the term sunderer, its a meaningless insult. I don't wish to sunder anything. I wish a new arrangement of the nations that make up the United Kingdom as part of the European Union. Can you say you wish for no barriers?

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  • 47. At 2:37pm on 19 Mar 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Sorry not an adequate answer, if you claim that you are an all party group then you need at least to point at members from a range of parties rather than from just two.

    "The power includes the ability to replace GOWA 2006 with GOWA 2012 (Archbishop of Wales intention). The new proposed legislation is virtually separation from the UK. That is unlimited power." That is an outright lie, can you show me where that power is given?

    As for scrutiny of measures, at the moment no third party scrutinises legislation coming from the National Assembly, so no change there. Again that is a deliberate lie. As for modification there is scrutiny after the proposed measure is published, scrutiny that is probably more open and transparent and involves directly more outside people than anything that is produced at Westminster. All proposed measures are capable of being scrutinised and amended before they reach the statutebook and are all subject to amendment and repeal by the National Assembly after. That is democracy, not relying on an outside body that has no connection. Does Westminster have third party scrutiny - no. If you were honestly after such a thing perhaps you should ask the French National Assembly to take over such scrutiny of Westminster legislation.

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  • 48. At 6:13pm on 19 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Lyn David Thomas #47
    “where that power is given “
    I share some of your doubt about the inclusion of such a power. However, the Archbish in his lecture in Cardiff to the IWA made the comment. I think that we need to take his opinion into account. There are a lot of lawyers at Cardiff and IWA has made a submission that would allow such an action to occur without reference to anyone other than the Assembly. I take the issue seriously.

    “no change there”
    You’re right but it doesn’t make it right.
    I prefer to review, revise and improve the legislation governing the Assembly. It needs to be done.

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  • 49. At 8:07pm on 19 Mar 2010, West-Wales wrote:

    Lyn #41

    Len will correct me if I'm wrong.

    I've just read True Wales blurb - its open to anyone.
    I would guess the majority of members do not belong to any political party, but that's not important, these are just ordinary people fed up with all the nonsense.

    This Lyn is people power - democracy - telling the political elite what the people want.

    In #41 you say;
    If you disagree with the political decisions being taken in the National Assembly by the Welsh Government work to change the government,

    The devolved arrangement was based on a Referendum in which only 25% of the total electorate supported Devolution.

    One of the promises made during that campaign was that before more powers were devolved we would have another Referendum.
    Then along came Hain and the GWA 2006. Hain wouldn't put it to a Referendum because he knew he would loose. (just as this coming referendum will be lost)

    What we have in the Assembly is a travesty of what the Welsh people want.
    The cost of running the thing is totally out of control, and out of all proportion to what it is expected to do.
    The AM's are fixated, not on running the devolved functions to deliver the best possible service in the most cost effective way, but on drawing down more powers. - Powers they have no idea what to do with.
    As Betsan pointed out on Dragons Eye - the only thing she had seen the FM really interested in was winning the vote for the "More Powers" Referendum.
    There is no effective scrutiny, there are no proper debates, or debating chamber.
    One third of the AM's are selected by the party, not the electorate.
    The unelected Presiding Officer has terms of reference that allows him to become involved in the Political process and decisions.

    The WAG are following an agenda "The One Wales Agreement" that has never been put to the electorate, our Deputy First Minister is leader of a party that only 10% of the Welsh electorate supported.

    This is not an issue of disagreeing with Political decisions.
    The Assembly is a bloated, expensive, tier of Government, despite the Billions spent, it has done little or nothing for Wales, or the quality of life of the Welsh people.
    By almost all measures it is a failed experiment.

    As I said above in #37

    the current arrangements are not working and failing the people of Wales.

    The debate should not be about "More Powers" - it should be about, how the Assembly can be reorganised, made workable, and cost effective.

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  • 50. At 10:52pm on 19 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    When I was in the BBC for am:pm in Feb I spoke to Betsan and explained that the True Wales campaign will be evidenced based. In my postings I have always tried to produce facts and figures or reliable quotations to justify and prove my case. We research the evidence and when satisfied, often by requests for information disclosure, we use them to show the failure of WAG the Assembly. Anyone is open to dispute the facts and our interpretaion and I invite people to provide alternative evidence. To date, NOT ONE SINGLE person has provided statistical evidence to counter our figures. I'm still waiting!

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  • 51. At 08:08am on 20 Mar 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    The True Wales campaign seems to be far from evidenced based. Your leaflets bang on about independence, that isn't on offer, you talk about voting yes will create 20 more AMs, that isn't on offer. Your website talked about a Welsh honours system and a Welsh stock exchange as proof of preparation for independence, which isn't true. True Wales is running on scares and smears. IF you are going to base the campaign on the failure of the Welsh Government then you are running on an anti government agenda - nothing to do with the institution.

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  • 52. At 11:21am on 20 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Lyn David Thomas #51

    Skirmishing is rather different from the main attack. We have drawn attention to published remarks/comments by people purporting to be ‘yes’ campaigners. That is evidenced based. The purpose was to put pressure on them to either firm up or withdraw their remarks. It has appeared to have done that and talk of independence has gone silent, but other aspects haven’t, including preparing for the Assembly to take over the armed forces in Wales, a Welsh legal system and ‘embassies’ for when GOWA 2012 becomes a reality. We have documented sources for all of these and more besides.

    “the failure of the Welsh Government”
    It is the only way you can decide on what to do. They have either succeeded or failed. On that basis the success bit is rather short by way of evidence and the failed bit heavy on evidence. It would be madness to give more power to failures.

    The Assembly we would reorganise and when a Constitutional Conference is established I’ll send you an invitation to participate.

    We are preparing a new leaflet...there's even more documented failure to draw attention too.

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  • 53. At 11:35am on 20 Mar 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Its evidence of what some of us would like to do, its not evidence of what a yes vote would achieve. That is like saying voting for the Tories would result in them Withdrawing from Europe and setting up preferential customs and excise terms with the commonwealth. So its a lie. A Welsh army? Who is proposing such a thing? And embassies? Do you mean the trade missions? Really you will have to do better than that and please produce your evidence. I notice you ignored the points on a stock market (Both Cardiff and Swansea used to have them) and an honours system - well the Butetown Community Centre has those - does that mean that Tiger Bay is planning on independence?

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  • 54. At 12:19pm on 20 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Lyn David Thomas #53

    Welsh army
    I’ll try and find it among my emails and post it for you.

    trade missions
    Same sort of thing. I’ll look.
    What you may call them and other’s call them may be quite different.

    Stock market
    I hate gambling and I wouldn’t want to encourage my fellow citizens to become embroiled in such moral sapping activity.

    honours system
    Are you thinking of nominating me for one…Lord Len of …..

    Tiger Bay is planning on independence
    You’re right!
    The inhabitants of the black lagoon in neo-tigerbay are doing just that. Read the TW leaflet.

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  • 55. At 3:45pm on 20 Mar 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    Len now you are just trolling.

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  • 56. At 7:42pm on 20 Mar 2010, Jack_Wilkinson wrote:

    Re 53.
    And embassies?

    Maybe I can help you Lyn? Welsh embassies are called embassies by BBC Wales, The Western Mail and the AMs, I should say they 'used' to call their embassies, embassies.

    But after taking a lot of stick for aggrandising themselves, they have learnt that modesty is a better option. Llafur suddenly realised that the English speaking working classes on whose vote they depend, don't just read the Sun.

    The minister also outlined £3.5m of assembly commitment towards funding the 2010 Ryder Cup in Wales and the provision of funding for assembly "embassies" in the United States, Brussels, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

    Mr Morgan used that trip to unveil plans for a series of Welsh "embassies" around the world - the first in New York.

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  • 57. At 10:28pm on 20 Mar 2010, Len Gibbs wrote:

    Lyn David Thomas #53

    Military: Feb 20 2010 by David Williamson, Western Mail
    "PLAID CYMRU was urged to start thinking today about the type of defence policy Wales would pursue if it gained control of its armed forces."

    Jack has answered your query about embassies. The word used is the word used.

    Stock market
    The need for a local stock market in an age when there wasn't electronic
    communication is obvious. The decline in local stockmarkets is not confined to Wales. The Bristol Stock market is non-longer and a form of reuters exchange facility is operated by the University. The internet has brought the stock market to the home and the likelihood of a new local stock market succeeding is remote.

    It is a bit strange to think that someone like yourself who is so critical of the English and their methods would want to ape them in this outdated form of elitism.

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  • 58. At 11:03am on 21 Mar 2010, Lyn David Thomas wrote:

    I think someone urging Plaid Cymru to think about what sort of armed forces we want if we were independent is a world away from plans for the National Assembly to take over the Army, again a red herring. The National Assembly will have now powers over the army if people vote yes in the referendum.

    Stock markets - Birmingham has just re-established one... Electronically.

    Honours - I don't think anyone has suggested the whole paraphernalia of a UK style honours system. Just a recognition scheme for achievement and service to Wales - rather like the community awards in Butetown. Nothing elitist about that. And again not evidence of plans for independence.

    Embassies - why not? They are there to promote the interests of Wales, they aren't embassies in the sense of diplomatic outposts but are essentially trade missions/Visit Wales offices. What is wrong with that? Again I think you will find that the Canadian Provinces and the Australian States all have similar outfits.

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