Jobs on the menu as Welsh Lib Dems gather


"Jobs, jobs, jobs" was the answer I got from a Liberal Democrat adviser after asking about the theme of the spring conference in Newport this weekend.

It coincides with the increase this weekend of the income tax personal allowance to the symbolic £10,000 mark.

It has become a totemic issue for the party and a reflection, it claims, of the influence it has wielded as part of the UK coalition government with the Conservatives.

After this week's bruising encounter with the leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage, the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will inevitably be promoting the importance of Europe to the Welsh economy.

The party has never had an MEP elected from Wales but I was told the recent debates have helped re-energise party members as they try to build support ahead of the Euros.

Even though he was considered to have lost, some in the party believe it was a masterstroke to have taken him on and give the Lib Dems such wide coverage over Europe.

Bidding war

Party activists see themselves as the most pro-European of the parties and, as a result, there's a point of principle with the Lib Dems on Europe that maybe you don't see elsewhere.

On devolution, we're likely to hear some of the most positive responses yet from a party leader to the recommendations made in the second part of the Silk report.

It called for the devolution of policing, some parts of the criminal justice system, and consent over large energy projects.

The spring conferences in Wales are starting to have the feel of a bidding war in the way they are responding to the Silk commission.

Last week Labour went further than it has in the past, saying that if certain conditions were met a Welsh government could have control over 15 pence in the pound of income tax, and the ability to raise the top rate.

We'll have to wait to see what the Conservatives come up with in Llangollen next week but there is something of a phoney war going on here as so much will depend on what happens in the Scottish referendum.

Disaffected supporters

But the more the parties mention the second Silk report, the less likely it is to be gathering dust on a shelf somewhere.

It will also be interesting to see what morale is among the troops at the University of South Wales in Newport this weekend.

There has been much talk of Labour being boosted in the general election by Lib Dem supporters who are disaffected by the party's coalition with the Conservatives.

It has three seats in Wales: Cardiff Central, Ceredigion and Brecon and Radnorshire.

Cardiff Central seems to be the most vulnerable at this stage.


In fact, in our St David's Day poll, the Liberal Democrats saw a drop of 11 points to 9%, which means it could see a majority of 13% being overturned in Cardiff Central.

The leader in Wales, Kirsty Williams, will be speaking on Sunday.

Among the areas which she is likely to touch on is the recent high-profile criticism of the Welsh government by the Conservatives and some of the London-based press.

She is uneasy with the tone of much of the coverage but accepts that on some of the key indicators on health and education, the criticism is valid.

In fact, I've just been looking at the speech she gave at the party conference in Glasgow in September.

She said: "For anyone who needs a reminder to see what Britain would look like under Labour, come to Wales. We can show you what it's like to have Labour in charge."

I think we can expect more of the same this weekend.

Nick Servini Article written by Nick Servini Nick Servini Political editor, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    People know what UKIP are Llyn, that's why it highlights the flaws in the Welsh political system. It is the wag and not Westminster that is to blame for the political isolation of so many in the Principality. Time for change, time for a new British constitutional settlement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    "The spring conferences in Wales are starting to have the feel of a bidding war in the way they are responding to the Silk commission."

    Brilliant - the snouts in the trough in the political class and their hangers on are so out of touch with the real world that they're driving more and more disaffected voters to put their X in the UKIP box!

    UKIP won't need a conference - it's all done for them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    48 “UKIP is the only really viable vote left to these folk highlight the flaws in the Welsh political system” – UKIP are an extreme far-right party who are anti-immigrant, anti EU, climate change deniers who want to strip Gays of their current legal rights, and the equivalent of Le Pen’s NF. Come Nov 11th I will look at my poppy and be thankful that I have never voted for far-right nationalists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    "On devolution, we're likely to hear some of the most positive responses yet from a party leader to the recommendations made in the second part of the Silk report."

    Define positive response?

    To me a positive response to Silk would be to put both the reports on a bonfire!

    We would need a Guy - any nominations?

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Re M33, I wonder how many tax-payers in Wales would make the move west to England if it wasn't for the dirt-cheap housing costs in Wales. The prospect of an education and oppourtunities for my children only to be dreamt of in Wales, does make the prospect of a downsize ever more attractive. Wales will be for the wealthy retired and poor an incabable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    57: I'll write it in Semaphore so you will understand. Oh.. and Semaphore isn't half of something by the way. Thought I'd flag that one up if confused.

    (P/S) Any act of Wales repeal due to an anti devolution agenda would face hostility and would not happen. Undemocratic see.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    26 - You will notice that {14} Llyn has been 'taken off' - like your original comment . But let me ask you do you think that Welsh is not pointless and not dying?

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    What I find very ironic the ones on this forum try their hardest bless them to attack devolution but somehow have a mind-block regarding Westminster waste or misrule. I and others point out their hypocrisy but they scamper from the truth, even today still fight lost devolution battles and cannot accept the Tories and yes even UKIP's Nigel Barrage are now accepting of devolution. Happy days! :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    No I don't know mab, can you explain?

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    51: It is relevant as you mentioned PC. They were not responsible for our fiscal woes, or two costly wars or apathy that's Westminster domain. You seem to wallpaper over who's at real fault for the disenfranchisement of voters. Our Westminster politicians are responsible for the list of fiascos mentioned, and less we forget they are from a unionist system you love so. You and they are to blame!

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.


    The British Parliament can make, remake and unmake any law.

    ie The Wales Act etc

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    What's happened to my previous post, it was placed in a moderation queue, not enough activity on here to justify that

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    48: Typical of you to omit important facts & figures. Agenda over truth. Yes Labour holds power in Wales but as mentioned political apathy has been created by London politicians ( not all) but a majority to whom have used a political system created by them to their own advantage. Why? because they can. Then you as a political mouse opt to attack the WG where London's at fault. Sly & vacuous!

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Political apathy is not the same as being disenfranchised. It is not having an meaningful vote that leads to apathy, a particularly pertinent condition of the current Welsh political system. I'm not at all sure what wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or Westminster scandals have to do with Welsh politics. What we have currently in Wales is scandal enough. A rethink by yourself is certainly needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    48: UKIP: Leave the devil in your door and regret the consequences. Remember any political apathy is largely down to MPs less we forget all the numerous sex & lies scandals, expenses farce , billions wasted on scrapped military & IT equipment not forgetting two costly wars resulting in death of troops and murder of Iraqis & Afghans not the result of any PC activist. It's you needs a rethink!

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    With opportunist David Cameron setting up camp in Dawlish doesn't it make you feel all warm inside knowing that with a click of the Tory finger millions can be found to fix the SW railway battered by the elements but Wales has to find monies from thin air to fix Aberystwyth's damage. No PM fanfare there. It's not a Tory/Labour marginal with votes at stake, or English.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    The only thing holding up economic and social progress in Wales is the Wag. With the Labour Party so full of PC activists it really is no surprise. To have disenfranchised such a large Percentage of the voting population to the extent UKIP is the only really viable vote left to these folk highlight the flaws in the Welsh political system as it stands. A rethink is so badly needed.

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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