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The plinths of Wales

Betsan Powys | 18:24 UK time, Monday, 2 May 2011

Watch the last televised clash before the election between the four main party leaders from Newport at 10.40pm tonight on BBC1 Wales.


  • Comment number 1.

    A truly ridiculous and inconsiderate time of night to broadcast this debate. If I remember correctly the UK debate between Brown, Cameron and Clegg was on at a much more reasonable hour.

  • Comment number 2.

    Ehhh....No thanks.

    Watch those four wasters !...I'd prefer to clean out our fosse septique in a thunderstorm.

    Actually now I come to think of it there's not that much difference between the two activities.

  • Comment number 3.

    I agree with Nic (!), far too late. How about a precis Betsan, for us who aren't political night hawks.

  • Comment number 4.

    1. and 3. Don't worry.

    I've been summarising these debates on Facebook. I'll happily post the main points here afterwards.

  • Comment number 5.

    ... one man's summary is often bereft of the substance, best to watch on BBC iPlayer for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth ...... then watch the politics of translation ...

  • Comment number 6.

    Kirsty won the "debate". Ieuan was weak. No-one agreed with Nick. And Carwyn said only Labour could win a majority.

    I'm enjoying Exile. Bit of a shock that Jim Broadbent isn't John Simm's real dad.

  • Comment number 7.

    5. John Tyler

    To paraphrase Indiana Jones, if it's truth you want, go to a philosophy class. As a news reporter I am only concerned with facts, and the people of Powys seem quite satisfied with my ability to communicate them, thanks very much.

    I think what you're trying to say is you think the way I saw the debate might be different from your own interpretation, or that of other people. That's not what a summary is supposed to be about, and I was going to limit myself to the main points made by the candidates but, since you have suggested it, I'll endeavour to include a commentary as well.

  • Comment number 8.

    7. At 00:11am 3rd May 2011, Mike Sivier wrote:

    “As a news reporter I am only concerned with facts, ...... but, since you have suggested it, I'll endeavour to include a commentary as well.”

    I think what John Tyler forgets is, that the program broadcast is edited; therefore I-player won’t give you “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. For that you would have to attend the recording. Of course then you will get the version of the truth that the BBC has planned, to a certain extent, as they will have chosen the main questions asked.

    Perhaps we should leave it to the philosophy students.

    Betsan, what happened to my suggestion of moving the "sign in" to the end of the comments? Anything?

  • Comment number 9.

    It can hardly be a surprise that health, education and jobs were the focus of the leaders' debate.
    Asked to make a direct appeal to voters, Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams went straight onto the attack. "Labour and Plaid together have left us with a weak economy, underfunded schools and an NHS that costs more and delivers less," she said.
    "Carwyn blames Westminster; Ieuan blames Carwyn. We know Wales deserves better. It's time to demand better."
    Carwyn Jones concentrated on Labour's promises for the future. "If, like me, you have reason to be grateful to the NHS; if you have children in school and want them to have the best start; if you want our economy to thrive; and if you want to live in safe communities, we'll make it easier to see GPs, spend more on schools, keep communities safe with PCSOs and give help with child care."
    Conservative leader Nick Bourne followed Ms Williams' lead in going on the attack: "After 12 years of Labour rule we have the weakest economy in the UK and getting poorer. Education - pupils are doing worse than in eastern Europe. Labour would take money from the health budget."
    But he added: "We would ensure schools were funded directly and invest in health, so that cancer services were first class and ambulance response times were better."
    Ieuan Wyn Jones, for Plaid Cymru, rounded off the opening salvo by saying: "On doorstep after doorstep it's jobs, standards in education, making sure you can see a doctor and dentist when you need to, and don't wait too long for hospital treatment.
    "We would create a Build for Wales company, creating new hospitals and schools. We'd make sure children all reach their full potential and provide access to health care when you need it."
    My first impression was of disappointment that the Liberal Democrat and Conservative both thought the best way they could appeal to voters was by attacking the Assembly administration of the past four years. When it came to their own plans and policies, Ms Williams provided no detail for the public to consider. Mr Bourne did a little better, mentioning the Tory flagship policies of direct funding for schools and investment in health - particularly cancer - care.
    Plaid's leader, as a member of the former administration in Cardiff Bay, wisely chose not to attack his party's former partners, but provided little detail when it came to policy, with only the Build for Wales scheme explained to any extent.
    So the accolade for best opening goes to Carwyn Jones. While many may disagree with his claims about the NHS and schools, he

  • Comment number 10.

    ... did mention four of his five policies for a fairer future in a clearly understandable and concise way.

  • Comment number 11.

    First question was from Helen Davies of Hay-on-Wye, who asked if the leaders feel there are any ways to raise the "appalling" standards in Welsh schools, other than throwing more money at the problem.
    Carwyn Jones refused to accept the claim that standards were appalling. He said 70 per cent of schools were doing well; the foundation phase was working; the Welsh Baccalaureate was being copied in England. In addition, Welsh students won't have to worry about how they can afford to study, thanks to the Assembly, he said. But he added that the "good work" which had led to more Welsh students getting higher grades needed to continue, and that the 30 per cent of schools that didn't come up to scratch needed improvement.
    Nick Bourne repeated his comment that Welsh schools were underperforming in relation to eastern Europe, but despite saying it was right that the issue was not about money, he then stated that the Conservative solution would be to put schools in direct charge of their own budgets.

  • Comment number 12.

    Ieuan Wyn Jones said thousands of 11-year-olds would be "functionally illiterate" when they go to secondary schools in July, and thousands more 16-year-olds will enter the workforce without the necessary skills, but gave no information on how Plaid would improve matters other than: "We need a real transformation."
    He attacked Mr Bourne: "As well as cutting the education budget by £40 million above government cuts, he's also cutting the local government budget by £227 million, which will affect education. It's all about cuts."
    Kirsty Williams took the opportunity to go on the attack again, asking, if Plaid had been the driving force in government as Ieuan Wyn Jones had claimed, why had he not tackled this issue? She said she wasn't surprised Nick Bourne didn't want to discuss money because "he wants to take 13 per cent out of the education budget".
    But, like Mr Bourne, she was unable to keep money out of her argument: "We need to close the funding gap. It's not just about the money, but you do need the resources."
    Carwyn Jones also attacked: "It would mean more from Kirsty if her government in London wasn't cutting funding to schools."

  • Comment number 13.

    Lee Canning of the Taxpayers' Alliance asked: "Considering savings have to be made, and there have been incidents of overspending or unregulated spending, what five areas or projects are you going to cut [back on]?"
    Nick Bourne: "NHS managers on top salaries doing nothing at all; [we would be] freezing top salaries in the civil service; £1bn in the NHS is misspent; there is massive budget overspend on lots of public projects such as roads; [we would encourage] collaboration between public authorities to cut administration costs."
    Ieuan Wyn Jones offered to cut cabinet ministers' salaries, redirect £150 million of the education budget to the front line, change management of the NHS, and suspend a list of capital projects (although fewer than the Conservatives would cut).
    Kirsty Williams would cut the air link between north and south Wales. She said she would cut £40 million spent processing Assembly special grants, and claimed that every piece of government expenditure over £25,000 should be published, to provide accountability.

  • Comment number 14.

    Carwyn Jones dismissed the question by pointing out that Labour's budget for the coming year has been published and is available for scrutiny.
    He attacked the other leaders' choices. "Why would the Liberal Democrats want to create another quango to scrutinise spending? That's what Assembly members do."
    He said the number of civil servants was dropping as an inevitable consequence of the Tory-Lib Dem Westminster government's cuts - but claimed that any suggestion Labour would cut NHS services was "an out and out lie". He said some areas would be "difficult to maintain" but "we have protected services for three years".
    And he pointed out that "A Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury took away £375 million that we had set aside to spend in Wales."
    Kirsty Williams responded - surprisingly, considering the number of attacks she herself had launched in the debate - by stating: "We don't need moaning about Westminster but positive ideas about how to make things better."
    And Nick Bourne also attacked: "You say you're not going to look at that £1 billion being misspent [on the NHS]. Crazy."

  • Comment number 15.

    "The government is about to massively increase the use of the private sector in public services," said NHS employee David Llewellyn Davies. "What should the role of those mechanisms be in Welsh service delivery?"
    Ieuan Wyn Jones said the private sector had no role whatsoever in terms of the NHS - but added that outside finance was needed to keep Plaid's hospital building programme going.
    Ms Williams instantly attacked: "Ieuan Wyn Jones says he'll do something, but the Assembly hasn't got the power," she warned.
    She said the private sector had no role in "mainstream" health care, but already delivered some specialist services, especially in mental health.
    She added that the private sector in Wales was weak and needed strengthening, to create jobs for the Welsh people. "I believe in public-private partnerships. I know communities that are desperate for investment."

  • Comment number 16.

    Carwyn Jones said Labour would not allow the market into the NHS. "Businesses want to make a profit; that's why it is important that it [the NHS] remains free and there is no marketisation," he said.
    "We're going in the right direction. Look at England. GP commissioning would be chaos. They've doubled prescription charges on the quiet.
    "If the Tories and the Lib Dems get in, we will see the same chaos."
    Nick Bourne said the private sector needed to grow - but agreed with the other leaders who said the NHS should not be in the marketplace: "We don't need expensive reorganisation."
    At this point the questioner pointed out that he had referred to all public services "because David Cameron is on record saying that almost all services should be put to tender - presumably the lowest tender. If Nick Bourne is saying the health service shouldn't have markets, then he's in direct opposition to his leader."
    Carwyn Jones reiterated his comments about the "chaotic reorganisation" in England. He said: "It would take place here in Wales if the Tories and Liberal Democrats got in and it would be David Cameron behind it - he's the one on all the leaflets."

  • Comment number 17.

    What would the leaders do to create wealth in Wales?
    Kirsty Williams would reverse the decision to take tourism out of the Department for Economic Development and put it in Heritage. "It's a key economic driver," she said.
    In addition, she would freeze business rates, create a "one in, one out" regulation system, and pay employers a £2,000 training grant to put employees through any training they need.
    Carwyn Jones would freeze business rates for small firms. "That's all we can do that is affordable in reality," he said.
    He said he would capitalise on major events taking place in Wales.
    But the key to sustainability, he said, was skills. "We want to invest in 4,000 apprenticeships in Wales." In addition, "it's crucial that people have the right attitude. It's about learning how to deal with people."
    Nick Bourne wanted small businesses taken out of business rates altogether, and said there was great potential in the hospitality industry.
    Ieuan Wyn Jones said Plaid would "sell Wales well. There's more we can do."
    He said: "We have a proposal for a 'homecoming' event, for people with any links to Wales to put it on the world stage."
    And in addition to taking small businesses out of business rates, he said tourism suffered from seasonality, and Plaid would take account of that in their business rates.
    The questioner warned that rate relief was "no relief for me". He added: "Two thousand jobs are no good with no clients to serve."

  • Comment number 18.

    There was another question about what would happen in the event of a coalition, and the leaders were invited to sum up at the end, but I'm not going to summarise these as there was next to no information in either topic that we didn't know already.
    I watched the debate with two other people, and asked them to declare who they considered best, judging by what had been said. Both dismissed Nick Bourne and Ieuan Wyn Jones immediately and said it was a toss-up between Kirsty Williams and Carwyn Jones.
    In discussion afterwards it became clear that Carwyn - and therefore Labour - had fared best because their perception was that he had concentrated on the positives - what Labour wanted to do, plus his claims about what it had already achieved - and had only criticised the others in response to attacks they had launched against him.
    In contrast, Kirsty Williams was seen to have been far more negative in her approach. My fellow viewers wanted to know why they should believe in her policies - never mind her ability to carry them out - if she thought they would give her less of an advantage over the others than criticising their plans.

  • Comment number 19.

    'We will create 4000 new apprenticeships in Wales.' Osborne promised 80,000 in England in the last budget. As for the promise by all of them to protect the NHS. That really is a joke when as one health specialist pointed out only this week that the health service is facing the toughest period since the early 1980s. Perhaps Carwyn Jones could also work out how long it will take education spending per pupil in his own local authority to catch up with education spending in the North East of England when the gap according to one commentator on the radio last week is in the region of £1112 per pupil. On the opening of GP surgeries on Saturdays perhaps we could be told how much extra GPs will be given to carry out this service given that they have a contract which states that they don't have to work on weekends. It's a policy that has already been tried by some PCTs in England and discontinued because of the cost. I'm afraid none of them as usual are being honest with the voters when it comes to the tough choices that will have to be faced in the next few years.

  • Comment number 20.

    I havent seen the programme,but reading comments confirms what I've heard so far,so nothing new from the "gang of four".The line by welsh labour that they will be able to protect the NATION from the national government in Westminster should surely be referred to the Advertising Commission,as it is a gross misrepresentation of reality. The UK because of world wide global economic crisis,has suffered huge loss of income,whilst at same time huge increae in public expenditure to stave off depression,and this was when the end of boom and bust was supposed to have happened. When Alastair Darling was Chancellor of Exchequor he was telling the UK NATION that there would have to be major cuts to public expenditure if Labour won the election,but that fact seems to have escaped our First Minister.The whole Assemble seem to potray Wales as some sort of independent country that can ignore the real world and exist in fantasy economics,and unfortunately BBC Wales seems to be part of game as well. Recently heard radio presenter talking about "unprecendented cuts",without adding on to the fact that UK public debt is at almost unprecedented levels and we are STILL SPENDING more than income,except that rate of growith is being cut. The "spiel" by CJ/IWJ is pretty nauseaus as they in government had unprecedented public money beingfunded by english taxpayers,and also European money and still the relative performances have gone bacward. If you cannot improve performance in absolute terms when you have all the money you need,then how can you improve them with less money,without taking the knife to pet projects thats been funded over last 10 years. I am intrigued by IWJ and "selling wales well",and wondering who is going to buy a bankrupt entity with no hope of ever funding its public sector from its own resources. Its show the limitation of Assembly in that one of the key planks of Coalition is to reduce level of public sector pensions,which will have dramatic impact in wales and seemingly never discussed by our wannabee leaders.

  • Comment number 21.

    As pointed out money isn't everything in education, look at the variation in Wales. And we aren't comparing the same, in England higher costs due to PFI skew the costs, and in Wales the expenditure by local authorities centrally on education isn't taken into account in the same way, so be very wary of sticking to the £600 difference. I was disappointed that there wasn't time to go into detail but I understand that the Plaid plan borrows from the experience in Scotland of intervention when it is found that a child is falling behind. The foundation phase is good, the Welsh Bac is a superior qualification (the English Bac is just a rebranding of existing qualifications) it is the middle phase that now needs to be looked at, together with the remedial work to ensure that illiteracy is eliminated, as far as that is possible. Some 60 years ago around 10% of the population were functionally illiterate, but it didn't matter as there were always jobs, today it does matter.

  • Comment number 22.


    "Some 60 years ago around 10% of the population were functionally illiterate, but it didn't matter as there were always jobs, today it does matter."

    Where is that figure LDT?

    Today in Wales 25% of adults are functionally illiterate, that is they have a reading age less than an average 11 year old. The illiteracy rate in Wales is the highest of any UK region with the North East a close second giving you a clue about the close relationship between poverty and education standards.

    Ieuan Whinge Jones is pulling a fast one with this topic; there is already a Labour policy in place to (try to) deal with adult illiteracy and basic skills. IWJ takes the adult illiteracy figure and transposes it to eleven year olds; by definition 11 year olds cannot be "illiterate" they can only be below the reading age expected of pupils at the end of Key stage 2, 11 years old, year six. The figure for this is 18% and I expect that when IWJ says he plans to reduce illiteracy by half he means that the figure of 18% will become 9% over a period of time. This is already a plan of both Labour and Estyn. Neither Labour nor Estyn will achieve this without backtracking on the decision to "Trust" teachers to evaluate pupil standards in Primary schools. Leighton Andrews has already realised this and has brought some rigour and, yes, League Tables back into Welsh Education.

    There was always a confusion about SAT testing; teachers said..."Schools JUST teach to the TEST, Thats not what education is about!"

    Very true; and so Welsh Primary schools taught to what objective standard??


    A subjective standard at KS2 doesn't become an Objerctive value as far as overall education attainment is concerned until GCSE. In Wales secondary schools have an impossible task making "Added Value" contributions to a child's education because many KS2 assessments have been a sham for a decade.

    Only now Estyn is catching up by moderating KS assessments across regions. Too Late; the damage to a generation has been done.

    Both Labour and Plaid supported the removal of objective testing in schools.

  • Comment number 23.

    I read your contributions Mr Sivier, then watched on the BBC iPlayer, I was right at #5, best to make your own judgement.

    I felt the debate had matured, the players have learned how to play the game, including BP, if I had seen the programme before casting my postal vote I might have given my regional vote to the Conservatives .........

  • Comment number 24.

    23. John Tyler

    "I was right at #5, best to make your own judgement."

    Well, I knew I wasn't going to satisfy everyone. Since yours is the only dissenting comment, however, I think I'll mark it down as a good job, well done.

  • Comment number 25.

    Why has nobody mentioned, that the "2nd vote" to "elect" 20 Regional Members up and above the 40 Constituency Members are for all I can see unelected by the public? I and for what I can see, every other member of the public, has no idea who these faceless people are what they will be doing no matter what party they belong to!! Or is it this old dog is unable to learn new tricks?

  • Comment number 26.

    9.and 10 At Mike Sivier wrote::

    “So the accolade for best opening goes to Carwyn Jones. While many may disagree with his claims about the NHS and schools, he did mention four of his five policies for a fairer future in a clearly understandable and concise way.”

    So Carwyn got the accolade? Would this opinion be influenced in any way if, for example, you were the Secretary of one of Labour’s Mid Wales branches?

    Perhaps John Tyler was correct in saying “one man's summary is often bereft of the substance”. Or, if not bereft of substance, at least coloured by circumstance.

    24. At 09:39am 3rd May 2011, Mike Sivier wrote:

    23. John Tyler

    “Since yours is the only dissenting comment, however, I think I'll mark it down as a good job, well done.”

    No, I don’t think so.

  • Comment number 27.

    #21, you wrote ...

    Some 60 years ago around 10% of the population were functionally illiterate, but it didn't matter as there were always jobs, today it does matter.

    ... literacy always mattered, you might like to expand the comment, who exactly were those people who didn't matter ?

    #24, not so much a dissenter, more an observer with a preference for the whole, someone who is not quite satisfied with a summary, particularly a summary written by a stranger ....

  • Comment number 28.

    25. At 10:00am 3rd May 2011, Johnawefa wrote:

    “........ Or is it this old dog is unable to learn new tricks?”

    The regional lists are fairly straightforward, perhaps you should try a little harder?
    To repeat a previous post, the beauty of the system is that it gives representation to those who though quite numerous are not represented by the antediluvian first past the post system.

    I am sure that you would not be in favour of a substantial minority of our population not being represented in the Assembly.

  • Comment number 29.

    26. Glyndo

    "So Carwyn got the accolade? Would this opinion be influenced in any way if, for example, you were the Secretary of one of Labour’s Mid Wales branches?"

    It's fair comment, for the reasons stated in the original piece. Two of the leaders (Kirsty and Nick) preferred to attack the others, rather than put forward their own proposals; two (Nick and Ieuan) were vague about the policies they did put forward. One (Carwyn) put forward his proposals in a clearly understandable and concise way. Therefore he gets the accolade from me.

    Bear in mind that I did say I would try to provide a commentary, which would necessarily be my own opinions. I made it perfectly clear that I would do that, in response to John Tyler's assertion in comment 5 above. I don't accept that you have any cause to complain when I have done exactly as I said I would. You can see that, as my posts continued and time raced on, the commentary aspect disappeared from my agenda.

    Observations in the last of my reports - from the friends who watched the debate with me - are their own.

  • Comment number 30.

    When deciding where to put our cross, perhaps past performance is the best guide.

    Labour has consistently failed to deliver at Westminster - every Labour Government has left the UK in a mess when vacating office.
    Refusing to learn from, or acknowledge mistakes, they instead castigate the incoming Administration for the painful choices needed to correct Labours mistakes and get UK plc moving again.
    Here in Wales, we too have suffered, - Labours performance since 1997 has been inept at best, destructive at worst.

    Reality is very different from Dreams, - Measure politicians not by what they say - but what they deliver!

    Remember Politicians are adept at ensuring what they say today, is worded so that in the cold light of tomorrow it is not what they said, or meant, at all.

  • Comment number 31.

    29. At 10:51am 3rd May 2011, Mike Sivier wrote:

    26. Glyndo

    "........ I don't accept that you have any cause to complain when I have done exactly as I said I would.”

    I wasn’t complaining, merely pointing out that your opinion might be coloured by your own agenda. I presume that a Secretary of the Labour Party, say, just might not be the most unbiased commentator.

  • Comment number 32.

    Labour`s legacy to Wales

    "Wales: - Labour has won every UK and Assembly election since 1922. They currently have GDP per capita $24k, poorer than Greece.

    Stand up for Wales and vote plaid

  • Comment number 33.

    "Today in Wales 25% of adults are functionally illiterate, that is they have a reading age less than an average 11 year old. The illiteracy rate in Wales is the highest of any UK region with the North East a close second giving you a clue about the close relationship between poverty and education standards."

    Sedwot And it gives you a clue what the union has done for wales .

    Tory/labour the two sides of the same unionist coin holding Wales back .

  • Comment number 34.

    31 Glyndo.

    I think perhaps your reading of my comments is coloured more by your own political agenda than mine. I wasn't trying to be an unbiased commentator, as I thought I made clear in 7 above. Since John Tyler had already criticised my work - before seeing it - I said I would take the opportunity to provide my own commentary where I saw fit.

    I notice neither you nor John Tyler have passed any comment on the way I have related the content of the debate. I take that as an admission that it is a fair account of what happened. Instead, you have confined yourselves to criticising those parts where I express an opinion - as I made perfectly clear I would.

    It's a shame that you have tried to twist my well-meant attempt to help people who would otherwise have missed the debate into an ill-conceived attack on my own views.

    I shall not be entering into any more correspondence about the way I wrote those comments. Why distract from the substance of the debate in such a way? Let's confine future discussion to what was said by the party leaders in the debate itself.

  • Comment number 35.

    Although it was a poll taken before the political head to head last night, Yougov have a new one out.

    Labour slipping slightly, Tories and Plaid plus 1% but......UKIP set to take three seats???

    What sort of "Rainbow coalition" is going to encompass a Nationalist Plaid and an anti-devolutionist UKIP?

    One thing which struck me throughout the "Law Making Powers" referendum debate was the wider view being expressed about the Assembly as a body and a sense of injustice felt by (as it turned out) 36.5% of the population that their views were not represented in Wales.

    I think those people have found their feet and a good few will vote UKIP it seems.

    I am not allowed to link but if you Google "Britain Votes" you can see the latest poll results and projections.

  • Comment number 36.

    Why do some people always blame poverty for poor school results?
    Our schools have had more money put into them than at any time previously.
    I grew up in the 1940's in the biggest family in the area. We were always in the top end of the class. All very good at all the subjects taught in the primary schools, (no compulsory Welsh, as I remember.)
    We went to school clean and fed. The teachers were in total control and we did as we were told. Both our parents saw to it that all homework was done and we took great pride doing what was expected of us. I went to grammar school, but some of the older ones couldn't, as they would have had to pay for books.
    There was NO political interference in the schools.
    Where we all lost out was that our parents could not afford to keep us in school after the official leaving age, 15yrs.(no state handouts for everything in those days)
    So we had to find employment. (no shortage of that either)
    Everything today is blamed on LACK of money, yet millions are thrown at it.

  • Comment number 37.

    Thanks Mike for filling in the blanks, there's a passable piece on this debate on the politics page, but for obvious reasons, rather thin. It is much as I feared, lots of justifiable criticism but precious little detail on remedies. For Carwyn to be 'happy' that 70% of schools are 'satisfactory' is unbelievable. Is mediocrity ever acceptable? The problem here is that neither he, nor any of the others, are prepared to tackle the main stumbling block, or is that bloc, of vested, and entrenched interests who like things just the way they are and don't much care for things like 'tests'. And what is the point of funding hundreds of apprenticeships if school leavers aren't well enough educated to start them. In the end it's beginning to look like a choice between smug failure and desperate wannabes.

  • Comment number 38.

    To 'Mike Sivier' - do you know how much your MPs., MEPs., Local Authority Chiefs earn from the tax-payer, plus untaxed expenses too?

    If you are so into politics - let's get to the basics, rather than semantics, shall we?

    Politicians already 'in place' can't operate without funding - neither can challenges from opposing politicians. So face it 'Mike Sivier' - money is the root of all political success with our increasingly 'Americanised' system?

  • Comment number 39.

    36. Cleverelliejo.

    I was disappointed with the answers to the education question in last night's debate - Nick Bourne wanting to put schools in charge of their own budgets and Kirsty Williams wanting to close the funding gap, as if those money-related actions would solve the problem.

    I think you put your finger on the heart of it when you wrote: "Both our parents saw to it that all homework was done and we took great pride doing what was expected of us." My parents took great interest in my education and I'm sure that my own academic success, such as it was, was at least partly due to that.

    It seems to me that parents are too quick to pass off responsibility for their children on to other people - especially teachers. If you want your children to excel, take an interest. Try to teach them some fundamentals before they go to school. Make sure they do their homework and try to have a look at it yourself. Help them where you can (without doing their work for them). All these things are FREE of charge and could mean a world of difference to your child's future.

  • Comment number 40.

    "Why do some people always blame poverty for poor school results?"

    It's a reliable indicator of where you find poor results. Poverty isn't a necessary sentence to academic failure as you already realise.

  • Comment number 41.

    38. Read Animal Farm

    Having read your comment several times, I can see no relation between it and anything I've written on here recently. Do you have a point or is this just intended to be a confusing non-sequitur.

  • Comment number 42.

    Thanks for the link - interesting!
    For me its not surprising that Labours lead is slipping, they have made a pigs ear of things over the last 12 years, - in the past polling trends over the last few days accelerated, is it possible Labour will end up with 27 or less seats.
    If so who gains.

    Turnout will have a big impact, without the AV Referendum turnout would probably struggle to reach 40%.
    Betsan reports Karl is predicting a record 47 -48%. - sad considering a General Election usually gets 60%+ here in Wales.

    However; who will benefit from these votes of the 8 to 9% of the electorate turning out just because of the referendum,.
    Bound to be a few Liberals, and probably some Conservatives. The issue seems to be confusing Labour supporters so not many extra of them. Plaid will gain little as their supporters would vote anyway.

    But these Voters in the main come from the group who are ambivalent about the Assembly and Welsh Politics - so will UKIP gain more than expected.

  • Comment number 43.

    West Wales "Plaid will gain little as their supporters would vote anyway.

    But these Voters in the main come from the group who are ambivalent about the Assembly and Welsh Politics - so will UKIP gain more than expected."

    That's my reading of it; UKIP and Tories gain from enhanced turnout; Labour gain from Libdem and Plaid (anti New Labour vote given to Plaid in the south last time comes home, Left leaning libdems move to Labour where it will make a difference).

    But look out for Libdem rump siding with Tories where appropriate and in Ceredigion both Labour and Tories voting Libdem......its happened before!

  • Comment number 44.

    Sedwot anti New Labour vote given to Plaid in the south last time comes home,
    not sure they will all come home.

    In 2007 it was not so much anti "New-Lab" as desperation at Gibbons handling of the health service and hospital closures that took votes from Labour.
    His centralization project, is now being stealthily pushed forward, not by closing hospitals but transferring facilities (like maternity and A&E) from local hospitals to large Hospitals usually many miles from the patients home.

    When voters come to put their cross, whatever their political emotional loyalty they will remember why they switched last time, and pause and consider.
    I think there will be many last minute decisions - especially in rural areas like Pembroke shire and Ceredigion.

    It seems the old socialist loyalties of Wales are being questioned, the Labour WAG has not delivered.
    Its obvious there has to be a better way, it seems voters still are revising ideas and looking for other options, with many simply intending not to vote at all.

  • Comment number 45.

    44. West-Wales

    "It seems voters still are revising ideas and looking for other options, with many simply intending not to vote at all."

    That would be a very great shame. I think it's much better for people to use their vote, exercise their democratic right and express their opinion, than to give up the small amount of power they have. They'll have no right to complain about what they get afterwards!


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