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Labour...led?

Betsan Powys | 14:47 UK time, Friday, 6 May 2011


There may already be an embryonic deal between Labour and either the Liberal Democrats or Plaid Cymru to form a coalition Assembly government.

Three of the most senior figures in Welsh Labour, leader Carwyn Jones, campaign director Leighton Andrews, and MP Owen Smith, in discussing the party's next move this lunchtime, have referred to their desire to have a Labour First Minister and a "Labour-led" government in place by next week.

This is very intriguing phraseology, as in theory there's no need to add the "led" on to a Labour government.

Mr Jones could easily form a Labour-only administration if the vote in the Assembly goes his way, as it almost certainly will, even without the 31 seats of an outright majority.

It is a strong indication that the party has already decided that it doesn't want to "go it alone" on 30 seats and will seek an alliance with another party.

Mr Andrews refused to elaborate on why he and the other party figures had used the phrase "Labour-led" saying only that it "is the phrase that the party is using today" and "you couldn't get a cigarette paper" between him and Mr Jones on it.

The former Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Mike German said he believed the use of the phrase "Labour-led" indicated to him that there was already forethought from Labour about a coalition deal, and it was his belief that talks could start as early as this weekend.

Asked what her position was on a deal with Labour, and whether contact had taken place, the Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said, "The ball is certainly in the Labour party's court - they've only been able to get the 30 seats, it must be very disappointing for them.

"As I said at the beginning of this election, our approach, after the people of Wales have spoken, would be to create a stable government here in Wales and to use our influence to push forward the elements of our manifesto that we've campaigned on."

One of the key figures in Labour's election campaign, the Pontypridd MP Owen Smith, asked whether Mr Jones would opt for a coalition deal, said, "I think he's said very clearly that there is a strong mandate that's been sent by the people of Wales that they want a Labour-led government, that they want Carwyn Jones as First Minister.

"I think the ball is in our court now, to think about how we want to take that forward, what we want to do with that mandate.

"I think he's said very clearly that he wants to be open, and to reach out to other parties, and think imaginatively about how we might work with other parties, but precisely what form that will take, precisely how we'll take that forward, I think you'll have to wait and see what we determine in the coming days."

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    So I expect all the Labour supporters who have been so excited / upset that the Conservatives and Lib Dems formed a coalition after the last General Election to post their disgust that the majority of Welsh voters did not vote for a coalition.

    After all to do otherwise would make them a hypocrite?

  • Comment number 2.

    Please God Carwyn has the sense to stay away from Plaid! Kirsty sounded coyly interested in an understanding with Carwyn when she was interviewed.

    We can only hope they form a bond.

  • Comment number 3.

    What can CJ mean? Labour led? Does this mean after all the sound and fury of the election we will finish up with exactly the same administration we started with? I was confronted with an unpalatable choice in the polling booth of having to select a candidate I disliked least from a fairly unappetising menu. Should not Labour have the courage of its convictions and govern on its own on an issue by issue basis? That way there would have to be proper debate and successful resolutions before implementation. If it's back to a disappointing coalition of underachievers then I don't see much to be enthused about. The only good thing to come out of this campaign have been your blogs Betsan.

  • Comment number 4.

    Gosh - coalition would be so wet when 30 seats is as good as it will ever get unless someone turns up with Salmond's secret. It would confirm Carwyn as a dull manager not a leader. His deeply complacent answers to Betsan's questions (earlier today) about his Government's performance on education do tend to confirm that.

    Could Labour really invite IWJ back into the Welsh Government when PC's appeal to the electorate has proved to be so poor? Hard to see how that could be made a positive.

  • Comment number 5.

    1. At 16:06pm 6th May 2011, Rustigjongens wrote:
    So I expect all the Labour supporters who have been so excited / upset that the Conservatives and Lib Dems formed a coalition after the last General Election to post their disgust that the majority of Welsh voters did not vote for a coalition.

    Where have you been for the last four years?

  • Comment number 6.

    Perhaps Plaid would do very well to step aside just now. Rethink, regroup and learn the lessons of Scotland. Being Labour's lightning rod did them no favours and the electorate need to be properly acquainted to the effects of a dreadful dozen years under Labour.

    Meanwhile, Scotland is where things are happening. The country is waking up and spreading its wings. Plaid would do well to ponder closely what has happened there and why.

  • Comment number 7.

    6. Plaid in Wales will never succeed the way the SNP have. The Welsh Language makes them a divisive force in Wales not a unifying one.

  • Comment number 8.

    4. caradog_minchin

    What do you sugest as the winning team.

    Labour and Conservatives. That is if you are talking about the positives.

    Can't see that happening somehow.

    It surly can't be the LibDems who came with the biggest negative.

    So what better than the experience that has already been there.

    That is if Plaid would want to participate.

    So all you will be left with is the contemptable LibDems, (think Westminster, can you trust them) who came last again and they will be in Government.

  • Comment number 9.

    "Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said, "The ball is certainly in the Labour party's court - they've only been able to get the 30 seats, it must be very disappointing for them".

    Only 30 seats? They must be distraught.

    How many did your lot win again?

  • Comment number 10.

    "They've only been able to get the 30 seats, it must be very disappointing for them," says Kirsty about Labour. Sour grapes? After all, Labour gained four seats - almost as many as Kirsty's party has in total - and in addition the Liberal Democrats lost one.

    Also, it can't have escaped her notice that, although she has retained her own seat, it is by a reduced majority and the number of votes Labour gained in Brecon and Radnorshire (I'm told) is EXACTLY the same as the number she lost.

    In all honesty, there were a couple of ideas in the Liberal Democrats' campaign that seemed worth trying out, so I'm not totally against the possibility of a coalition with them.

    But, considering the negative campaign she ran, and her comments today, I would not be happy to join forces with a party that has Kirsty at its helm. If I were Carwyn Jones in that situation, I would find myself constantly looking out for metaphorical knives in my back.

    I may be encouraged to change my view... if she changes her tune.

  • Comment number 11.

    10. At 18:07pm 6th May 2011, Mike Sivier wrote:

    Mike, if the Welsh LibDems are anything like the Parliamentary LibDems then they'll be gagging for the trappings of power.

  • Comment number 12.

    Mike @ 10

    I would suggest your rose tinted glasses are confusing negative campaigns, the only negative campaign was from Labour, stay off our record and watch out for the bogeyman in Westminster.

    Well that did not quite play out did it, Tories gained seats, labour gains in areas where they had seats previously, not a fantastic victory that some are saying.

    I would suggest that if Labour could not crack it with all of the winds in their sails then it will be never.

  • Comment number 13.

    The Lib Dems did very well to hold on - in every Assembly Administration, 1999,2003,& 2007 they have only had 6 seats, - today despite the collapse of their vote across the rest of the UK, here in Wales they still managed to secure 5 seats only losing one.
    Kirsy deserves a pat on the back.

    I thought both Jamie and Betsan were unnecessarily aggressive, almost bordering on abusive, in their lunch time interview with Kirsty today.

    Plaid seems to have held onto its its core 20% of the vote, They have been punished for their part in the One Wales Agreement and lost the various hangers on and floating votes.
    The wider electorate understand their message - and don't like it.

    However what is interesting is the gradual increase in the Tory support over the Assembly elections to date.
    In 1999 they won 9 seats with 15% of the vote, 2003 again 9 seats but 20% of the vote, in 2007 11 seats with 22% of the vote then today 14 seats with 25% of the vote.

    Difficult to say where the extra support is coming from, but consider the the decline in the Welsh economy and our public services under Labour led WAG's, then look at the successive economic failures of Westminster Labour administrations. - are we seeing in Wales a political cultural shift, a recognition that in Labours heartlands that Socialism is not delivering.

    So what of 2016 - will the balance between Labour and the Tories shift more, is Labour (despite being top dog today) actually the party of yesterday.

  • Comment number 14.

    Labour needs a coalition partner. The Tories are out of the question. They know they can work with Plaid, but with the SNP bringing in a referendum on independence for Scotland, Plaid will be forced to be a lot more open about its own independence agenda. And Labour wouldn't want to be joined at the hip with a party campaigning for the break-up of the UK.

    That leaves the LibDems. Only Kirsty and Black would require Cabinet seats. Kirsty could take the farming portfolio that no-one in Labour really wants. Black could be given local govt, and asked to sell ever-decreasing funding settlements to councils across Wales. Or, more boringly, given housing. A Lib-Lab coalition would mean 33 Govt votes versus 25 opposition votes. Five years of stable govt for Labour; a route back to respectability for the LibDems; heck, it even suits Plaid, who get to come out about their separatism and try to install Adam Price as the Welsh Salmond. Even Ed Miliband's happy, as he gets proof that Labour can work with the LibDems without rehabilitating them UK-wide.

  • Comment number 15.

    Carwyn Jones and Labour may well go it alone.

    Carwyn is no mug... He is only too aware of the huge numbers of Labour voters who were adamant that Plaid were not wanted if a coalition was deemed necessary.

    Plaid are just too dogmatic in their quest for the idiotic dream of a stand alone, totally independent Wales.

    The coalition with Plaid was a disaster. Labour did as well as they could under the conditions but Plaid, like a spoilt child, forgot their place in the scheme of things. They frequently demanded half-baked, ill thought out, expensive and nonsensical "projects" while Labour tried to run the country. No, Plaid Cymru in a coalition are a nightmare,and will cause many Labour voters to feel cheated that their views have been ignored.

    My tip would be to go for it alone. Though Kirsty and her little band would be more acceptable,(and much less troublesome than Plaid) And if they were in coalition with Labour, it would leave just Plaid and the Tories in opposition....and in all honesty can you see those two parties cuddling up together?

    The Conservatives (believe it or not) are also a possibility. They did well in the election, and could be relied upon to behave...well....Conservatively !!!!

  • Comment number 16.

    West-Wales @ 13 - I entirely agree that the Tories should be happiest this evening. Not sure that their consistently growing support is happening in Labour's heartlands, though. They don't have a constituency seat anywhere you wouldn't half-expect to find a Tory.

    The political map of Wales show fours distinct blocks now. Red in the south and north-east; green along the west coast; yellow in the middle, and blue in more Anglicised and affluent coastal areas. Arguably, no party has really reached out beyond its heartlands in this election - and hasn't since Plaid's surprise wins of 1999.

  • Comment number 17.

    Interesting array of responses to my comment.

    11. Itsalreadytoolate

    I fear you are correct!

    12. Indy2010

    They're not rose-tinted glasses, although I have to admit the future's so bright I am having to wear shades just at the moment. If you saw Kirsty's performance on the BBC leaders' debate earlier this week, then you'll have seen the kind of behaviour which makes me refer to her negative campaigning. In addition, some of her campaign leaflets were appallingly negative about her opposition, with nothing positive to say about her own party's policies. In contrast, here in Brecon and Radnorshire, the Labour Party campaigned on the simple 10-promises message - five to keep, five for the future - and doubled its share of the vote. My opinion is that Labour would have got more, but voters were cautious because of the aforementioned negativity from Kirsty. The Tories did make gains but lost their leader. Their increase in popularity since the Assembly was formed cannot be denied, though, and is certainly something I would want Carwyn Jones to think about in depth during the next five years. But that doesn't mean you should dismiss Labour's gains and it doesn't discount the fact that - unless they do form a coalition with Labour - the Liberal Democrats will have a negligible effect on Welsh Assembly politics in the next five years.

    13. West-Wales

    You and I will have to disagree about Kirsty. I'm sticking to what I said before: She needs to change her tune.

    Your comments about the Tories are extremely illuminating, though. I would hope any forward-thinking Labour administration would take note.

  • Comment number 18.

    So what happens next? Wait for white smoke to emerge from the Transport House chimney? Then CJ descends the steps to dispense his wisdom to the masses (of journos)?

  • Comment number 19.

    15. Crossroads

    So you think that with over a hundred years of Labour control in Wales with all its poverty and unemployment.

    They are still going to be the right ones for us.

    Please explain what exactly they have achhieved in Wales over those hundred years.

    We are still the poorest part of the UK.

    Our health service is the worst.

    Our Education record is the worst.

    Our umemployment is the worst.

    Our level of sickness record is the worst.

    In all these Departments Labour Ministers or Labour and Tory S of Ss have been in control.

    13. West-Wales

    Could the increase in Conservative support come from the massive influx of retired Pensioners and Tory voters moving into Wales.

    I live in a small town in the South of Wales and we are quietly being taken over by retiries moving in especialy to the sheltered accomodation complexes.

    I can't see it coming from the indigenous people can you.

  • Comment number 20.

    DafC #16

    Your comment;
    "Not sure that their consistently growing support is happening in Labour's heartlands,"

    Agree - lazy comment on my part - the growth in support seems to be patchy across Wales, possibly affected by local issues and personalities! but a real and positive opinion shift.

    Unfortunately Labour is trapped in an ideological cage, they are locked into the theology of Marx and Engels's "Scientific Socialism", bolstered by the work of many acolytes and blindly reinforced by Academics who research and teach Social Sciences.

    Labour is unable to evolve, unable to modify or question fundamental assumptions they cannot move away from strategies that don't deliver.

    Given the sorry state of the devolved services and responsibilities here in Wales it will be interesting how Carwen and Labour deal with the issues.
    Simply saying they are underfunded is a cop out - if Wales was not part of the UK and funded by the Barnett formula, our economic performance over the last 12 years would have left us in a catastrophic mess!

  • Comment number 21.

    Message 19 (alfsplace 1986)

    Well said Alf....Whenever a little ray of sunshine is called for, you're just the boyo to turn up with the shrouds.

    Strikes me as strange though that your cheerful list of sad things has never stopped those godless English from buying houses right in amongst all that Welsh wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    Unfortunately for you though Alf, it is illegal to prevent or restrict any of the heathen English hoards from buying homes wherever and whenever they choose.

    May I be the first to offer you my sincere condolences following the sad near demise of your beloved Plaid Cymru. Though no doubt you will gain much consolation and comfort from prolonged use of your extensive collection of Dafydd Iwan and Max Boyce CDs.

    Though in times of acute sadness I have always found Robert Johnson and Eric Clapton to be much more beneficial.

    Altogther now !

  • Comment number 22.

    21. Crossroads

    I never said anything about stoppng them or restricting them.

    They bring a lot of welcome money into Wales.

    Cos let's be honest If it was up to the idigenous people of Wales we would be poorer than we are because of the hundred years of Labour and Conservative rule.

    The people of Wales certainly haven't got the money or jobs to keep us going thanks to them.

    We now have to rely on Food banks to keep us fed.

  • Comment number 23.

    Now on a good day I can explain the off-side rules (football and rugby) to Mrs. Crossroads, quite easily.

    But as for the "South Wales Central-Regional seats" palaver, it is but a mystery to me !

    Is there any rhyme or reason as to how the **** it is all calculated?

    I notice Labour won all eight of the constituencies in 'our' region, but were rewarded with absolutely nothing in this system.

    It seems the better a party does the more seats are "won" by other parties.

    Why is this seemingly crazy system in operation? May be wrong, but I can't remember there being any public consultation/referendum action carried out to bring this method of selection into being!

  • Comment number 24.

    An intersting item on Radio 4's sociology-themed programme 'Thinking allowed' the other day:

    www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b010t7rz

    In it, Dr Tracy Shildrick tells of her study of poverty on Teesside, one of the most underprivileged parts of Britain.

    One of her most surprising findings was that even some of the very worst-off -people who often went for a day or more without food.

    This is the sort of thing that is happening in this country under our alternating Labour/Consevative and now ConDem Governments.

    Even the chronicaly ill and disabled with their Carers, the most vulnerable in our society are going to be left destitute and without support.

    Doesn't it make you proud to be a part of 21st century UK.

  • Comment number 25.

    23. At 22:04pm 6th May 2011, Crossroads wrote:

    “But as for the "South Wales Central-Regional seats" palaver, it is but a mystery to me ! Is there any rhyme or reason as to how the **** it is all calculated?

    I notice Labour won all eight of the constituencies in 'our' region, but were rewarded with absolutely nothing in this system. (Me - That’s the point of it)

    It seems the better a party does the more seats are "won" by other parties.”

    The Regional List is designed to compensate parties who get a lot of votes but win few seats. This is designed to combat the inherent unfairness of the FPTP system.

    You take the total votes cast for each Party and divide by the number of seats already won (constituency seats in the first round) plus one.
    The Party that gets the highest result is given the first “Regional seat”
    This is added to their total number of seats calculated above and the division is repeated to calculate which one gets the second seat.
    The Party that gets the highest result on the second division is given the second “Regional seat”
    This process is repeated twice more to allocate all four regional seats
    Simples, and fair.
    I could send you an excel spread sheet that does it automatically but the Beeb frowns on that sort of personal contact.

  • Comment number 26.

    #16 west coast? Affluent? Pembrokeshire was objective one. One of the poorest places in Europe. And it's blue. Sloppy, lazy.

  • Comment number 27.

    The results in 2011 election show what the vast majority of welsh people think of PC,even after it was given the "oxygen" of publicity after King Rhodri invited them into the big tent down Bay of Third Raters. Lets hope the publicly funded air-link for the north west wales politicians gets shut down as part of the cash strapped (supposedly) government in CAERDYDD. Like all bad losers (i.e welsh rugby players),there are allway excuses and further excuses,but the voting public aint dull and they can see the baleful impact PC has had on non-welsh speaking wales. Having seen the election results for a proper country,i.e UK,then I think the real beneficiaries of devolution in the long run are going to be the english middle classes,as they are going to reduce the impact of the ungrateful welsh/scots on their economic/social policies. They'll continue to fund the "freebies" in wales,whilst holding their noses,and by reducing representation at Westminster where all the real decisions are made almost guarantee permant Conservative/Blair type Labour governments.Never mind I can sleep soundly knowing that in Jane Hutt we have welsh Finance Minister more than capable of representing us more than adequately in dealing with HM Treasury!!. In real world it would be like putting Tondu Robbins in Champions League,ie out of her depth like the rest of them. There are quality people around,like Jeff Jones of Maesteg,however he "upset" the Labour,or should I say LLAFUR because he seemingly sceptical about welsh language fanatics,and good for him.

  • Comment number 28.

    Despite all the tax money (millions) spent by the government, tax funded parties and the other front organisations to pump up turnout in the devolution experiment the turnout was down to 43 out of 100 in Wales. In Scotland the turnout was down to 50 out of 100 (including anti-devolution parties). Abstention is the popular choice. Experiment has failed. Time for repeal and common representation.

  • Comment number 29.

    Let's hope that Carwyn finds the courage to go it alone. We have had 4 years of failure as Labour allowed PC to rule the roost in Cardiff.

    Now is the time for a bold approach. If PC and the Conservatives play silly games and vote against (for example) Labour budgets then the Welsh electorate would surely punish them at a subsequent election

    PS Alfsplace1986 - if you did a little research you would find that only thirty years ago Wales fared better than many regions in England. Our performance in Education - Health et al has fallen very badly in the last 11 years. No mystery there!

  • Comment number 30.

    28. You are correct in analysis,however there are now too many local and third rate political careers,and also growth in political journalists in BBC Wales/S4C to row back prior to 1999. As Jeff Jones stated the devolution "project" in wales was not thought through,but arose out of a hatred of Thatcherism,and that they could'nt see long term future for Labour. The result of devolution has been the success of welsh labour leaders who MUST speak welsh and who identify with the welsh nation,rather than the hard headed and practical welsh labour politicians who identified solely with english only speaking working class in valleys and eastern part of wales. The whole "exercise" is in my opinion fundamentally flawed,as a huge part of welsh expendure on health/education is funded by people other than welsh taxpayers,and as well the social security payments are not met by welsh taxpayers. We were sold a PUP in 1999 by the people who want welsh seperation from UK,and because of poor turnout it got through,and unfortunately we can look forward to isolationism and political solutions that belong in 1945. If our education is so "wonderful",why are our policy masters so afraid to publish details of school performances?. In conclusion the lie told by LLAFUR in that it could "safefuard" welsh people from Westminster decisions was shamefull,as is evidenced in that the changes to be made to public sector pensions which is big issue in wales are being made by Con/Dem government without any real influence by WAG. Chou En Lai was asked in 1980's about effect of french revolution on history and he replied" too early to tell",and welsh devolution is an exercise which does'nt really know where its going.

  • Comment number 31.

    30. Regarding the repeal of devolution - Do not give up. In 2006 Con/Lab/Lab etc said the banks should not be nationlised. In 2008 they nationalised the banks.

  • Comment number 32.

    29. Decentjohn

    Oh I see.

    That is all down to Plaid Cymru is it.

    Give me strength

    Education, Health etc, Departments run by Labour AMs and your many regions in England that Wales was supposed to be better than are the most deprived in the country.

    Not much to brag about there.

  • Comment number 33.

    29. Decentjohn

    If Labour have allowed Plaid Cymru to rule the roost as you and others say they do in the Assembly Government. Then the Labour Administration must be a very weak lot and certainly dont deserve to be Governing a country.

  • Comment number 34.

    Quirk of the election - Lib Dems getting a North Wales list seat with 5.9% of the vote....strange or what?

  • Comment number 35.

    31. CONNELL

    The difference being, Devolution was by the democratic will of the people.

    The banks were private companies who went bankrupt and had to be bailed out with our money to save the economy and the country.

    So I don't think Devolution will be repealed that easily or simplistically.

  • Comment number 36.


    28. At 08:11am 7th May 2011, CONNELL

    The turn out for the AV vote was also circa 40%. So Connell this means you dont accept this result either? Time to have another referendum if we listen to your tripe.

  • Comment number 37.

    Mike @17

    My point is in the heartlands of Labour the tactic of blaming tories and the untruth of protecting Wales from cuts from Westminster did not work an example is Islwyn

    In 2007

    Labour 8883
    Ind 6665
    PC 5084
    Con 1797
    LD 1135

    This time around the independent candidate who garnered a lot of votes in the Pontllanfraith/Blackwood area of 2007 did not stand

    Labour increased their vote numbers to 12116 a 36% increase

    PC lost Ground 4527

    The biggest gain in no's of vote was Cons with 2497 a 39% increase in vote numbers, this is a trend in some other valley constituencies.

    This is reinforcing West Wales's comment and you are right Labour needs to be aware of this trend as the time when they could rely on the valleys to guarantee their existence is coming to an end as witnessed by the crash of the Labour vote in similar industrial heartlands of Scotland, Thatcher's children are not blaming Thatcher, they are blaming the ones in charge now for the decline of the last 12 yrs.

  • Comment number 38.

    Beside the Wales voting public putting the nationalist genie back into the bottle, we also said no to AV, might we also be expressing a dislike for the regional voting system employed for the Assembly, would the majority prefer smaller constituencies so that we might always express our preference for the person. In effect bring back FPTP for all our elections.

  • Comment number 39.

    38. In Scotland the electorate is represented in the British parliament by 59 MP's. In the Scottish parliament they are represented by 73 constituency and 56 regional additional members (7 per region) - 129 in total, if we include the 6 MEP's that means that each elector is represented by no less than 15 representatives. One parliament not three.

  • Comment number 40.

    Political debate around Devolved Government in Wales - and campaigning - has to be framed by the constitutional settlement. Carwyn is only going to be "Governing a country" (#33) to the limited extent that the NAforW is empowered. He is not going to be doing anything about the price of petrol for example and the fate of the economy is in his hands only to a limited degree (mind you the old WDA did much better than WAG in those areas).

    Since 1999 all Parties have wanted voters to gain the impression that they can do more then they possibly can in the devolved world. I hope this 4th Assembly will focus hard on its core functions and improve those key services for which it does have responsibility. We need to see evidence-based policy development and smart delivery. Over 12 years too much time has been wasted on things which fall to others to deal with. I hope somebody is telling Members that.

  • Comment number 41.

    Indy2010

    "Thatcher's children are not blaming Thatcher, they are blaming the ones in charge now for the decline of the last 12 yrs"

    Thatcher faced a similar economic disaster with British industry on its death bed when taking office in 1979, as Cameron has in 2010.

    In 1979 it was the Wilson Callaghan Governments that had wrecked Britain, Thatcher had little choice. And she was successful - note the legacy left in 1997.

    By 2010 after 13 years of another Labour government it was Blair and Brown who had brought the country to its knees.
    Now Cameron supported by the Lib Dem's has the difficult unpopular decisions to make.
    Thatchers children understand that - and increasing number of older folk, many traditional Labour supporters, are now also connecting the two events and realise Labour socialism is a failed ideology.


    alfsplace1986 #24

    It doesn't matter who is now in Government, they have to cut, if they don't the IMF will impose much more savage cuts.

    If we want to look after our vulnerable we need to generate the Wealth to afford it.
    If we want to get children out of poverty we get parents into work.
    Borrowing money to support social spending and Government largess is the route to National poverty.

  • Comment number 42.

    Never in my life have I ever been so dismayed by politics. Pundits and bloggers whitter on about power sharing deals, completing missing the point. Don't they understand or care the phenomenon that has just occurred and is surely unprecedented. Has political failure ever been rewarded in this way before. I'n not "party political" or wedded to any ideology, I just yearn for competent government. Yet the people of Wales have just voted for politicians that have developed and run policies, programmes and services that have seen Wales left with the poorest and most poorly educated children in the UK. Now, I have no particular dislike of Carwyn Jones and his fellow Ministers, but having failed the people of Wales, then surely they shouldn't be returned to govern in a stronger position? Or, are we saying there really is no alternative and we just need to accept our fate?

    http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/02/23/child-poverty-in-wales-exposed-as-uk-s-worst-91466-28217113/

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-11930257

  • Comment number 43.

    41. West-Wales

    alfsplace1986 #24

    It doesn't matter who is now in Government, they have to cut, if they don't the IMF will impose much more savage cuts.

    If we want to look after our vulnerable we need to generate the Wealth to afford it.
    If we want to get children out of poverty we get parents into work.
    Borrowing money to support social spending and Government largess is the route to National poverty.

    Pardon. I don't think that is an answer to any of my questions or is it a way of avoiding mine. Not a politician are you.

    Isn't that what all Governments do borrow money. Please don't tell me it is all for Welfare. Which I take it you mean sickness benefits and Disability allowances.

    The greatest amount of Welfare Benefits goes to those who are over 65 and retired. Is that what you mean.

    As for generating wealth to protect our vulnerable.

    Can you please tell me how depriving chronicaly ill and disabled people of the only source of income they can have to support themselves through their inability to work.

    Because this is what is happening in 21st century UK.


  • Comment number 44.

    41. West-Wales

    I could not disagree with you more.

    In 1979 Thatcher came in, faced with the cumulative effect of a decade of stagnation triggered by the government of the man she stabbed in the back to become leader of the Conservatives - Edward Heath. What a leader he was! Mr Heath soon discovered running a country was very different to being captain of a yacht and we soon discovered his emergency plan was to panic. Wilson was the most talented politician of his time, but his time was the 1960s. By the mid-70s he had developed dementia (as I understand it) and was unable to help himself, let alone the UK. I have no sympathy for Callaghan at all; I don't believe he was a good leader.

    If Thatcher found British industry on its deathbed, she did all she could to put it out of its misery. The classic example of this is the mining industry, which she crushed, in order to pave the way for imports of cheap coal from abroad.

    In place of industry, she set up a deregulated financial sector - and we all know how that turned out!

    In 2010 it was not Blair and Brown but the unregulated banks who had brought Britain into financial trouble. Thanks for that, Mrs Thatcher!

    By the way, the IMF has not, to my knowledge, stated any intention to impose savage cuts. From where does your information come?

    It seems doubtful that organisation would have to do anything because all political parties have agreed that some sort of belt-tightening is necessary. However, the ConDems have done it in all the wrong places - witness NIESR's warning to George Osborne last week that his plan won't work and he won't meet his debt-busting targets. In contrast, as Labour was on its way out of government last year, its own plans to turn the economy round, increasing the tax take and thereby paying off the deficit, were starting to work - as demonstrated by GDP figures for the first three quarters of 2010. Labour wanted to mix cuts with investment in building the economy and safeguarding jobs, in order to grow the tax take, and the plan was working.

    Of course, if rich tax avoiders were forced to pay their way, we could write off the deficit in very short order indeed - but under a Tory-led government we all know that wishing for that is like building castles in the air.

  • Comment number 45.

    The best result of the night was Wales' rejection of the extreme-right UKIP and their small-minded anti-immigrant and anti-EU policies.

    After all their bragging and thousands of pounds spent on their campaign they got nothing. Its funny to remember back to Wales Today on Wednesday when the UKIP member from the Vale of Glamorgan Kevin Mahoney (who disgracefully hounded the lady teacher from being able to take part in the Yes campaign earlier this year and did not have enough guts to run in the constituency vote) predicted more seats for his extremist party than the Lib Dems - what a joke!

    Once again UKIP have spent more money for every vote they received than any other party and once again Wales has rejected their extremist creed. There's no wonder when you have extremist policies like those they spout, candidates of the calibre of Kevin Mahoney, members the like of the organiser of the extremist website Christian Doctrine and supporters the like of Len Gibbs of True Wales who continues to pump out his self regarding views on his website and who disgracefully said on the ‘Yes Butt, No Butt’ on BBC Wales on 6/3/11 – that he would like to see the Senedd building “blown up” or “burnt down”.

  • Comment number 46.

    1. At 16:06pm 6th May 2011, Rustigjongens wrote:
    So I expect all the Labour supporters who have been so excited / upset that the Conservatives and Lib Dems formed a coalition after the last General Election to post their disgust that the majority of Welsh voters did not vote for a coalition.

    After all to do otherwise would make them a hypocrite?


    Very many Labour supporters were vehemently opposed to going to coalition with Plaid 4 years ago. In my case at least nothing has happened to change my opinion.
    I am sure though that however shrilly Kirsy has criticised Labour, from her wonderfully successful position of being a leader of 4 others she will not be able to wait to sell out her principles and dip her snout in the trough

  • Comment number 47.

    Mike #44

    Sorry I have to disagree -most of what you say is inaccurate.
    I would love to debate this at length but this is not the place;

    However briefly - If we start with Wilson's 1964 - 70 Administration;
    The "Pound in your pocket" and devaluation, (Kaldor & Balgor economics) Beer & Sandwiches in smoke-filled rooms, industrial disputes and Barbara Castle's failed "In place of strife". Amalgamation and ultimate decimation of British Aircraft industry, and - instead of rationalisation of the ailing Steel industry, Nationalisation, which resulted in its effective demise.

    Heath was not up to the job, he was unable to turn the country around after winning in 1970 - the Industrial problems Wilson had faced, in particular the "Seamen's Strike", had left the UK with serious problems, the ending of the "Bretton Woods agreement" was hitting Western economies hard when the 1973 Oil Crisis turned a difficult problem into a nightmare. But it was industrial unrest and ultimately the miners strike and the 3 day week that lost Heath the 1974 election.

    We all know the history of the 1974 - 79 Wilson/Callaghan Government and the final collapse.

    The public's disillusionment with Britain's troubled industrial relations, allowed Thatcher to bring in radical industrial legislation which transformed the British workplace, but it was largely strict budgetary control and her market oriented reforms which revitalised Britain's performance, rebuilding our economy.

    Then came Brown who handed control of interest rates to the BofE but presided over a massive expansion of public spending, and encouraged a reckless expansion of credit and the financial system to fund it.
    He also sold of our strategic Gold reserves so that when the crash came we had no emergency funds.

    The Global Banking crisis was "Global" and due to international relaxation of regulation over years, not just one Government - It was Browns unsustainable expenditure, and the failure of his emergency economic planning that left us facing the situation we are in today.

  • Comment number 48.

    47. West-Wales

    I shan't debate the 1960s; we were discussing the 1970s onward, and from what you say here, you agree that Heath wasn't up to the job and neither were Wilson and Callaghan.

    Thatcher certainly transformed the British workplace! I've already mentioned her war against the miners; another aspect of her work that should strike a chord with people today is the fact that 1981, only the second full year of her first term, saw the largest depression of wages until last year. Working people were made to work for, in effect, less money. I stand by my comments about her deregulation of the financial sector - that's what brought money into our economy at the time, but it is also what has damaged us now. Ronald Reagan deregulated US banks at the same time. I agree that the 2008 crisis was international, but it was this action by Britain and America that paved the way for it; they made it possible.

    The main thing I wanted to do with this post was to put to rest the myth about massive expansion of public spending under Labour. Let's have a look at some official figures, shall we?

    Average annual Income Tax & NI contributions between 1979 and 1997 (under the Conservatives Margaret Thatcher and John Major) were 35.42 per cent of GDP.
    Between 1997 and 2010 (under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Labour) were 35.37 per cent of GDP.

    Average annual Government Expenditure between 1979 and 1997 was 43.52 per cent. Between 1997 and 2010 it then DROPPED to 39.86 per cent. [source: HM Treasury]

    Thatcher and Major taxed more and spent more than Blair and Brown - according to the Treasury. There was no "massive expansion of public spending" or "unsustainable expenditure".

    I'll leave it to others to discuss the gold sell-off and your claims about encouraging a reckless expansion of credit. For myself, I certainly didn't go chasing after loans I couldn't pay off (or indeed any loans at all), and I would have said the only people asking me to do so were the banks.

    I lay the blame for today's situation at the feet of the Tories who de-regulated our banks, and laid the groundwork for similar actions around the world, and at those of the bankers whose reckless gambling with money that wasn't theirs led to the credit crunch and government bail-outs of 2008.

    I remind you that no government was prepared for what happened that year, and refer you to my previous comments about Labour's economic policies in the last months of its administration, which were working until the Conservative-led coalition took over and put the brakes on.

  • Comment number 49.

    It seems this blog starts to play up when it's getting late. I'm re-posting my last comment in two parts, to make sure nothing was missed.

    47. West-Wales

    I shan't debate the 1960s; we were discussing the 1970s onward, and from what you say here, you agree that Heath wasn't up to the job and neither were Wilson and Callaghan.

    Thatcher certainly transformed the British workplace! I've already mentioned her war against the miners; another aspect of her work that should strike a chord with people today is the fact that 1981, only the second full year of her first term, saw the largest depression of wages until last year. Working people were made to work for, in effect, less money. I stand by my comments about her deregulation of the financial sector - that's what brought money into our economy at the time, but it is also what has damaged us now. Ronald Reagan deregulated US banks at the same time. I agree that the 2008 crisis was international, but it was this action by Britain and America that paved the way for it; they made it possible.

  • Comment number 50.

    The main thing I wanted to do with this post was to put to rest the myth about massive expansion of public spending under Labour. Let's have a look at some official figures, shall we?

    Average annual Income Tax & NI contributions between 1979 and 1997 (under the Conservatives Margaret Thatcher and John Major) were 35.42 per cent of GDP.
    Between 1997 and 2010 (under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Labour) were 35.37 per cent of GDP.

    Average annual Government Expenditure between 1979 and 1997 was 43.52 per cent. Between 1997 and 2010 it then DROPPED to 39.86 per cent. [source: HM Treasury]

    Thatcher and Major taxed more and spent more than Blair and Brown - according to the Treasury. There was no "massive expansion of public spending" or "unsustainable expenditure".

    I'll leave it to others to discuss the gold sell-off and your claims about encouraging a reckless expansion of credit. For myself, I certainly didn't go chasing after loans I couldn't pay off (or indeed any loans at all), and I would have said the only people asking me to do so were the banks.

    I lay the blame for today's situation at the feet of the Tories who de-regulated our banks, and laid the groundwork for similar actions around the world, and at those of the bankers whose reckless gambling with money that wasn't theirs led to the credit crunch and government bail-outs of 2008.

    I remind you that no government was prepared for what happened that year, and refer you to my previous comments about Labour's economic policies in the last months of its administration, which were working until the Conservative-led coalition took over and put the brakes on.

  • Comment number 51.

    50. You seem have very selective memory on recent history. I lived through the 70's with the humiliation of UK being seen as the "sick man" of EUROPE because of lack of investment due to unions power,particularly at shop floor level,i.e RED ROBBO at Longbridge. Who can forget our PM telling Hugh Scanlon of AEUW to get "his tanksoff my lawn" at No.10. The "blessed" Mrs. Thatcher was faced by a revolutionary communist,i.e Scargill who flaunted his NUM rule book to get a national strike,which the welsh miners NEVER VOTED for,but was enforced initially by threat of "flying pickets". The then leader of Labour,i.e Kinnock was pretty ambivelent in his support for the miners,due to concerns about Scargill and general running of strike. You forget about seamens strike in 1960's and Harold Wilsons quote about"tightly knit group of politically motivated men" seeking to bring our country to its knees. It seems pretty certain that Jack Jones was in pay of USSR and other union leaders were communists whose aim was to destroy democracy in this country. With regard to the end of Conservative government in 1997 and succession of Blair/Brown,when the latter entered the Treasury he was told that the economic picture was quite "rosy" was a healthy surplus and his reply was "what do you expect me to do send them a .........letter". The latter Brown was totaly enamoured with Banking,and when he opened the Lehman Brothers office in London his praise was "gushing". The whole concept of "globalization" was fully endorsed by Labour between 1997 and 2010,which saw firms like Burbery closing in south wales and off to China,so lets not re-write history. I will say one thing in support of Brown in that he stopped Blair/Mandelson taking us into EURO so his place is secure in history.

  • Comment number 52.

    Mike @ 50

    Interesting interpretation but as we are dealing with a defecit which is built on public sector debt the following numbers somewhat show the issue.

    In 1997 Public sector net debt was £29.7bn some 42.4% of GDP at that time, at end of 2009/2010 it was £152 bn some 53.8% of current GDP.

    We know GDP has increased over the period primarily due to financial services, the issue is that GB borrowed well over the odds during the period spending the tax and more money borrowed, leaving us with debt that a reduced tax take in the UK cannot service if you still want other services at the same level, it is just not sustainable. If you live within your means, all is OK, it is quite clear now that the UK cannot at this current level.

    The main question is do we have to reduce the PSND as quick as the current coalition or over a longer period and which one of those strategies appease the organisations that hold our debt.

  • Comment number 53.

    Oh dear. Let's see if I can sort this out.

    51. Tellingme...

    If I were to accept your statement that I'm being selective (which I'm not prepared to do) you also are being very selective with those moments of recent history quoted here.

    52. Indy2010

    The numbers do not show the issue as they are snapshots taken at particular moments and do not show the trends. West-Wales was trying to say that Labour habitually taxes more than the Conservatives and spends more as well. HM Treasury figures prove that it is the Conservatives who take more and spend more (yet we, the people, see less benefit of it, in my opinion). The figure for 2009-10 is high because of an emergency that we all now know nobody in the world had foreseen (even though they should have). Cut out the spending on that emergency and Labour's spending was lower than the Conservatives'.

    The borrowing that you refer to as "well over the odds" probably saved your bank account, if you have one and it's in credit. We had two go over the edge, and the 'run' that caused this would have knocked all the others down like dominos if the government of the time hadn't acted. I know the Tories wanted no action, but I wonder about their motives.

    The borrowing that propped up those banks was a once-in-a-lifetime event; it wasn't habitual. I would question the motives of anyone who claims it was, or was symptomatic of the same. The facts - as presented by the Treasury - show that Labour acted sensibly during its time in government.

    The facts also show that Labour's policies for reducing the deficit by increasing GDP were working, before the Conservatives and the Lib Dems got into power and messed it up. Don't forget, it's less than a week since George Osborne was warned his strategy will not work, by NIESR.

    Taking that into account, your main question does not apply to the situation. The current coalition's plans will not reduce the PSND as quickly as Mr Osborne has said they will - we've had that from experts.

    The choice would be more properly framed as: Do we cut public spending recklessly and savagely, reducing both our ability to increase GDP and our chances of cutting the PSND within a reasonable period of time, or do we take action that will cut the PSND, if over a longer period, by supporting industry and jobs and maintaining vital services?

    Put like that, it's not a choice at all, really, is it? You'd have to be insane to go for the first option. What a shame this is precisely what the current government has done.

  • Comment number 54.

    The lie is of course that Labour caused the deficit, the banks collapsing caused the deficit, without that we would be in a lot healthier situation. If we hadn't bailed out the banks we would be considerably worse off and personal savings would have been wiped out and mortgages foreclosed on. Remove that section of the deficit and we would be fine.

    Who removed the regulations that let the banks get us in this state? Well I am afraid you have to blame both Labour and the Tories for that, the Tories for starting it, Labour for continuing it, except that the Tories wanted de regulation to go far further.

  • Comment number 55.

    54. Lyn David Thomas - I agree with everything you say here (if a little uncomfortably when it comes to Labour allowing deregulation to continue. I know Gordon Brown has apologised for doing too little).

    You rightly state that the Tories wanted deregulation to go further. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, they didn't want Labour to bail out the banks. Presumably Tory bank accounts are all offshore, somewhere very secure - or at least, all the Tory accounts that matter. They'd have betrayed every working- and middle-class voter who ever supported them.

    Another question to ask is regarding voting intentions of the banks' bosses, and those employees who caused the collapse. Does anyone here honestly think those people voted Labour?

  • Comment number 56.

    Re 55.
    Ha ha!!!
    Much like a Rhodri Morgan, Carwyn Jones, Welsh speaking elite, are trouncing the aspirations of the English speaking working classes?

  • Comment number 57.

    Re 55.
    I think they have?

    They'd have betrayed every working- and middle-class voter who ever supported them.

  • Comment number 58.

    Mike #49

    You may not wish to include the 64 - 70 Wilson administration, but you will surely accept that the seeds of our industrial collapse, and the problems Thatcher faced when she came to power were planted at that time.

    Industrial disputes of that era were destroying jobs and industries -
    Examples; the British Shipping industry, and the car industry - However - it was a far sighted Communist Trade union leader, Jimmy Reid who saved the Shipbuilding industry on the Clyde.
    It wasn't Government at war with the unions, it was the Unions at war with Britain.

    The current global financial crisis grew out of banking losses in the United States related to sub prime lending.
    However I agree Thatcher was part of the International decision to deregulate the financial markets, a decision driven in the main by Reagan's financial advisors, supported by Britain because of the parlous state of our economy.

    This decision was supported by Brown who further deregulated and encouraged expansion. - For Brown the financial industry was a cash cow.
    To maximise the freedom of the Financial sector Brown removed oversight of the Sector from the Bank of England and put in charge a Quango with no teeth.

    By the time of the crash British banks had some $4.4 trillion of foreign liabilities. That is twice the size of the British economy. Thanks to Brown UK foreign reserves were virtually nothing at $60.6 billion, and of course our Gold reserves had been sold and the money frittered away.

    If you are trying to argue that Brown did not borrow to increase spending or increase the size of our public sector, instead of raising tax revenues to pay for it - you are wrong.

    If you are saying that Labour did not legislate to constrain and hamper British Industry, or to add unnecessary social legislation which had a wide negative impact on our competitiveness you are wrong again.

    Now - You must stick to the debate - I said nothing about Tax , in #47 I wrote Brown "presided over a massive expansion of public spending, and encouraged a reckless expansion of credit and the financial system to fund it."

    Every time the Tories have replaced Labour since 1928 they have been faced with an economic and industrial mess.
    They have not been able to reduce tax's despite recognising that it is necessary.
    The Tories main objectives has had to be, rebuilding infrastructure and our Wealth producing Industries - and paying off Labours Dept!.

    Far from improving the lot of the Working classes, Labour has used them as cannon fodder in a political war, and in doing so brought Britain from a major World economy, to almost third world status.

  • Comment number 59.

    58. West-Wales

    I agree the financial crisis grew out of banking losses related to sub-prime lending, but would say this occurred in the UK as well as the States (and probably elsewhere as well). I'm glad we agree about Thatcher. Gordon Brown has admitted his failures with respect to regulation and while it's too late for him to sort them out, at least it gives the Conservatives an indication of what they need to do. I wonder why they're not paying attention to that.

    I'm not trying to argue either of the things you suggest in your "If you..." paragraphs.

    Perhaps it was a mistake of me to include taxation in the figures I quoted from the Treasury. You are correct that the relevant figures refer to spending, where you see that Labour has consistently constrained public spending to less than 40 per cent of GDP, while the Conservatives have consistently spent more. To me, this does not indicate "massive expansion". Nor does it suggest they were expanding credit and the financial system to fund it. Why should they? The tax take accounted for by far the majority of public spending, and the percentage of borrowing was less than that undertaken by the Conservatives.

    You say the Tories' main objective has had to be rebuilding infrastructure and our wealth-producing industries. Considering their record in the year they have been in power - an aggregate growth level of zero, all indications showing they are trying to reduce infrastructure, and expert predictions showing their policies are likely to increase the national debt (I wouldn't say it was Labour's - it's the banks' debt really) - I fail to see how anyone can put trust in them to do any good.

    Once Labour had got a grip of the situation, its policies were actually helping to build GDP and safeguard jobs, thus increasing the tax take in anticipation of using this to pay off the debt, along with savings from cuts which would have been less than those of the Tories. If the public had realised this, rather than choosing to make Labour the whipping-boy of the 2010 election, we might have had a party in government today that was actually able to bring the deficit under control, rather than a coalition that can't.

    Furthermore, if you look at the Tories' record, after taking over from the Labour administrations you mentioned, in every single case they then caused recessions or full-blown depressions. If you're trying to tell me Labour can't manage this country's finances, then I have to say there's little evidence that the Tories can manage them properly, either!

    Re: your final comment, about

  • Comment number 60.

    Mike @ 59 with net debt going from 29% of GDP in 2002 to 60% in 2010 excluding the financial interventions i.e. bank bailouts, if you add these in it is 103% of GDP it is quite obvious they borrowed more, throughout history this figure has been higher, 181% at end of ww2, other countries now have higher levels, ex intervention USA 71% for example.

    Using your reasoning that they did not spend more where did the money go?

    Interestingly if you add in pension liabilities and pfi along with bank guarantees it is about 156% of GDP.

    3% of GDP went on interest payments in 2010 to service the debt.

  • Comment number 61.

    60. Indy2010

    Now this is interesting - my understanding was it was 60 per cent all-inclusive. That's the figure I've seen in all the documentation I've been able to see, and it's also the figure that's been bandied around on all the TV news shows I've laid eyes on. May I ask where you obtained these figures?

 

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