Tag Archives: Wales

Opinion: Welsh Liberal Democrats need to be bolder in considering a coalition without Labour

 

This past week in Wales, political ears pricked up after Stephen Crabb (the Conservative Secretary of State for Wales) gave support to the idea of a Conservative, Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat coalition in the Senedd after the May 2016 elections.

The ‘rainbow coalition’ almost happened in 2007 – but has more recently seen to be off the table, so backing (as it were) from such a prominent politician has sparked off some debate.

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams on more power to Wales

Kirsty WilliamsKirsty Williams would ‘”be very happy” to see a Lib Dem Secretary of State for Wales. As she says in an interview with Wales Online, under the Coalition the party has produced three Scottish Secretaries.

Having Liberal Democrats as secretaries of state gives us the best possible chance of wrestling power out of Whitehall and giving it to Wales.

She reflects on the devolution of the NHS Budget to Manchester.

You know, the fact that that kind of responsibility can be passed down without any referendum at all and here in Wales each step of the devolution pathway we have to have a referendum… The irony of that is not lost on me.

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Opinion: Combined authorities and English devolution

The big news on devolution this week has been the twin announcements of more devolved powers for Wales and that Greater Manchester will be devolved control over the £6 billion health budget for the region.

It’s interesting to see what lessons can be taken from this. One is that ‘Devomanc’ really does appear to have substance, despite initial scepticism from various people (myself included) and another is that talk of English Votes on English Laws is even more redundant now that we face the prospect of Mancunian MPs voting on matters affecting the rest of England which don’t affect Greater Manchester.

A further, more worrying lesson, is that devolution is becoming ever more piecemeal with wildly varying levels of devolution both across the UK and across England.

But England the lessons are particularly interesting. Those of us living outside of major city regions like Greater Manchester and Merseyside have been wondering how exactly we can get our share of devolution and it now looks like we have an answer.

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Police surround Lib Dem Councillor using sledgehammer

Never let it be said that Liberal Democrat councillors avoid hard work. When a skateboard park in his ward was damaged, Aberystwyth’s Councillor Ceredig Davies (also our group leader on Ceredigion County Council) arranged to get down there and fix it.

Some local people didn’t see it that way. What they saw was a random man taking a sledgehammer to a local facility, as the Cambrian News tells us:

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Baroness Jenny Randerson writes…Optimism and determination of Welsh campaign teams is impressive

When I am travelling around Wales I take every opportunity as to go out campaigning with our Welsh MPs. Last week I was out knocking doors with Mark Williams and his team in Lampeter. I am a seasoned Ceredigion campaigner- I don’t think I have missed an election there in the last 15 years. So I know what to expect, and the atmosphere hasn’t changed. Mark is known by almost everyone and regarded with huge respect for his constant hard work in a constituency where local issues are particularly important.

In Brecon and Radnor the “Williams Team” are equally well known and Roger is particularly well established in the farming community. Campaigning in such a sparsely populated area is never easy and elections in B and R are not for the faint hearted. But once again we have the benefit of a well-liked and respected candidate and a strong local party able to support him.

Cardiff Central is about as big a contrast as you can imagine: it is geographically the smallest Welsh constituency but, as an inner city seat it has a big turnover of population. I live in the area so it is no surprise that I campaign there regularly. As a Labour facing seat it will obviously be very closely fought and Jenny Willott’s Labour opponent is particularly well funded as she is a Trade Union lawyer. Jenny and our team are working as hard as it is possible to do and, once again, her name is well known and her reputation for hard work is frequently mentioned. Labour infighting on the Council and their plans to close libraries and reduce bin collections have persuaded a lot of local people that they cannot be trusted. The core Lib Dem team in Central are experienced, tough campaigners, but there are also a lot of new members, many of them young, for whom this is their first general election as activists.

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Welsh Lib Dems get good media coverage for new website launch

Welsh Lib Dems weibsiteNew websites put Welsh Lib Dems at forefront of web campaigning” screams the headline on Wales Online. Not bad coverage for the launch of a website, albeit one using the new .wales and .cymru domain names.

Kirsty Williams is quoted as saying:

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Opinion: The UK is not working

WalesFor 45% of Scots and for many in the NW, the SW and in Wales (which I refer to as the devolving regions), the UK doesn’t work, and this should matter to a Unionist Party. As a Welshman who was forced, as were my parents, to spend decades working in England the reasons are only too clear.

In England we are quite often subject to xenophobia. And while our local colleagues go for exotic weekend breaks, we have to struggle back home to tend to ailing relatives via a crazy London-centred transport network that means that the quickest route from Penzance or Aberystwyth to Dover or Great Yarmouth is via the M25 or Paddington. The quickest route from Liverpool to Southampton is via the M25. And to get to Paris on the HS2 the whole country will have to stop off in London.

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It’s been a really good week for Kirsty Williams

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams gives her keynote speech to the Welsh Conference today. She’s had a barnstormer of a week.

First of all, on Monday, she gave a speech to the Electoral Reform Society in Wales in which she called for more Assembly Members and for Assembly Members to be subject to recall, resulting in this very on message headline:

More AMs for stronger economy

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Lord Roger Roberts writes: Peers must resolve crisis of democracy in Wales

This afternoon, with the full support of all the main parties in the Welsh Assembly, the House of Lords will debate cross-party amendments to the Wales Bill, designed to radically improve voter engagement in Wales. The UK Government will instruct Coalition Peers to vote against them. How can we arrive at such a situation?

There is a crisis of democracy in Wales which the UK Government and The Electoral Commission have stubbornly, and repeatedly, refused to acknowledge.

Despite the sterling efforts of some Electoral Registration Officers (EROs), only 51% of our youngest citizens are registered to vote. And, in 2011, only 35% of 18-24 year olds voted in Welsh Assembly elections. If this status quo persists much longer, than less than half of young people in Wales will have an opportunity to voice their opinions at the ballot box on 7 May 2015.

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Eluned Parrott selected to fight Welsh Assembly Cardiff Central seat

In 2011, one of the most heartbreaking results in Wales was losing Jenny Randerson’s former constituency of Cardiff Central by just 38 votes Losing by such a small amount is horrible. Welsh Liberal Democrats hope to win it back in 2015. They’ve now chosen their candidate, South Wales Central list AM Eluned Parrott, who has made a significant impact since she was elected in 2011.

In 2012, she wrote about her experience of Post-Natal Depression for Time to Change Wales as one of four AMs who decided to be open about their own experiences. A year later, she followed that up with an article about the impact that decision had had on her life:

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Kirsty Williams: For Labour and the Tories, Welsh patients are just collateral damage in NHS War

rally kirsty williams 1Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams emailed Welsh members yesterday about the current war of words over the Welsh NHS. Here’s what she said:

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Strong language from Nick Clegg on more powers for Scotland: This opportunity cannot be hijacked

I had a sneak preview of an article Nick Clegg wrote for today’s Sunday Post. I was a bit disappointed in its blandness. We needed more robust language, I felt. Why? Well, when Cameron had just had almost half of Scots who voted tell him they wanted out of the Union, his main message in response was to pick a fight with Labour on the so-called “West Lothian Question.” Really, Dave, is that what you take from all of this? By making more powers for Scotland seem contingent on resolving the English votes for English laws issues, he exacerbated tensions up here.

Yes supporters were already, entirely understandably, devastated. I only need to think of the anxiety I’ve felt over the last couple of weeks to understand entirely how it feels for them. The last thing these people needed to do was to find themselves in the middle of a scrap between the Tories and Labour over something that was irrelevant to them. There needed to be a very clear message that the powers would be delivered on time. If they aren’t, then, frankly, the three pro-UK parties are completely stuffed. As Ming Campbell memorably put it on the BBC News Channel on Friday night, you might as well hand out free membership of the SNP.

Rather than use his resignation statement to bring people together and soothe people’s emotions, Alex Salmond sought to raise tensions by suggesting that David Cameron had reneged on a commitment to have the Second Reading of the new Scotland Bill by 27th March. That was never part of the deal. As an MP of 20 years’ standing, Salmond should know that even if it had had its second reading by then, it would have fallen as Parliament is due to be dissolved days later. The commitment was to have a Bill ready to be debated by the next Parliament immediately after the election. That’s what the Better Together election poster explicitly said:

Better Together election poster

 

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams: A chance to promote a new union

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Kirsty Williams has been writing for Click on Wales saying that she hopes that Scotland remains within the UK and how the Referendum gives an opportunity to make the union between our nations work better.

First she talks of the benefits of remaining in the Union:

The referendum offers us a chance to promote a new Union, rather than stubbornly defend the old.  The Welsh Liberal Democrats offer people a more positive future:  not one of isolation, but one in which all corners of the United Kingdom are indeed stronger and better together.

I firmly believe that Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. Being part of a strong family of nations like ours is in the best interest of not just Scotland but the rest of the UK too. We all benefit from a stronger economy, greater national security and a powerful international voice that would be hard to match as separate states. However, Scotland must have more powers to determine its future.  To simply do nothing in the event of a ‘No’ vote cannot be an option.

And she talks bout what needs to happen in the future for both Scotland and Wales and highlights what the Liberal Democrats have achieved in Government.

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Kirsty Williams says Carwyn Jones’ devolution comments will confuse Welsh voters

Carwyn Jones and Alistair DarlingYesterday, I saw Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones speak at  a Better Together event in Edinburgh. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that much. Most of what I’ve heard about him comes from the Welsh Liberal Democrats who aren’t, shall we say, completely enamoured at his record in office.

Having said that, he did have some useful things to say. He was very clear that he as Wales’ leader wanted Scotland to stay in the UK:

We want you to stay to work with you to build socially just

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Let Kirsty Williams know your views on nursing levels in Wales

Kirsty Williams and Peter Black visit nursesWelsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has been on a mission for some time to ensure minimum nursing levels in Welsh hospitals. She explained on this site why this was important in a post in March this year.

Evidence is increasing from across the world on the positive impact that nurse staffing levels have on patient care and the recruitment and retention of staff. Nurses who have fewer patients to tend are able to spend a greater amount of time with each patient and as a result can provide better care. If they are more easily able to identify potential problems with a patient’s care, then they are able to play a preventative, rather than a simply reactive, role and consequently reduce the level of treatment needed and the cost of this care to the NHS. It also means better support for staff which leads to more manageable workloads, increased job satisfaction and reduced levels of stress or burnout.

Kirsty’s attempts to put staffing levels on a statutory footing has now reached the next stage. She has published a draft Bill and is currently running a consultation on it. You can access the Bill and the Consultation Document here.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Progress in Magna Carta’s Birthday year

Magna Carta by EteeIn a week when the big news is about changed faces in government, there is also much manoeuvring in the political undergrowth about the rules which govern government:  our constitution.

The House of Commons Select Committee on Political and Constitutional Reform (P&CR) has launched a debate on a written constitution for the United Kingdom.  This has been a Liberal and Liberal Democrat objective for all my time in politics, but the question has always been how such a document would be drawn up, agreed and entrenched beyond the usual …

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Mike Bell resigns as candidate for Weston Super-Mare for family and work reasons and Welsh Liberal Democrat councillor joins Labour

Libby - Some rghts reserved by David SpenderThe Liberal Democrat PPC for Weston-Super-Mare, Mike Bell, has resigned from that role, although he will continue as a councillor. The Bristol Post reports:

Dad of two Mr Bell, who lives in the town, posted on social networking sites his decision to stand down as parliamentary candidate for the seaside resort with immediate effect.

Mr Bell thanked his supporters said: “I have resigned as Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Weston super Mare due to work and family commitments.”

Mike was the party’s candidate at the last

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Kirsty Williams calls for anti-extremism strategy for Wales

Kirsty WilliamsKirsty Williams, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has spoken in the National Assembly today calling for an anti-extremism strategy for Wales. This was in response to the news that two men from Cardiff had appeared in a video designed for recruiting jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

She said:

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Would you blow £10 million of public money on the basis of a wee chat?

£50 notes side viewI think sometimes we might make too much of our claims that we’ve been cleaning up Labour’s economic mess for the last four years. It’s true they didn’t fix the roof when the sun shone, but there was this global recession thingy that, frankly, I didn’t mind them spending a fortune to bail us out of.

But they don’t help their reputation for financial incompetence. We know that they left the City of Edinburgh Council brassic with not much in the reserves . Now, it transpires, Rhodri Morgan, when …

photo by: Images_of_Money
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Kirsty Williams AM writes… Welsh Liberal Democrats oppose Labour’s e-cigarette ban

Electronic Cigarette InhalationAs a liberal I’m deeply sceptical of knee-jerk reactions to issues of public importance, especially when there’s a severe lack of evidence to support your claim. This was a view I thought I shared with the Welsh Labour Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, after he said in the debate on my minimum nurse staffing levels bill that “in pursuing public policy, legislation should almost always be a last, rather than a first resort.”

You can imagine my surprise, therefore, when the Welsh Labour Government announced plans to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places, along the same lines as the current smoking ban.

I called Welsh Labour’s plans into question as I led a debate in the Senedd on this matter earlier this month, asking the Health Minister to produce the evidence that he had to support this ban. Despite assuring me and other Assembly Members that there was “mounting evidence” which he’d make available to me “immediately after the debate”, it was two weeks until I received anything from him. This amounted to one single paper.

I’d hardly call that “mounting evidence”.

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Opinion: As everyone looks to keep Scotland in the Union is the coalition doing enough to keep Wales in?

Welsh flagIn 1889 Lloyd George saw the way that Wales was bring treated by his fellow Liberals, over home, rule as being like prize giving at a country fayre:

 Excellent little Wales’ and all that. At horse shows we sometimes see a first prize of £10 given to one, £5 to another, while the third is ‘Highly Commended’. That is the way that Wales is treated by the Liberal Party. Ireland deservedly gets the first prize (a series of splendid measures). Scotland take second prize. Wales, like a Welsh mountain pony, is

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The Independent View: Without thriving city economies, there can be no sustained national recovery

New Skyscraper Under ConstructionThis year, George Osborne delivered his Budget against a backdrop of better than expected growth, higher than expected employment, and a deficit reduction plan that exceeded previous OBR forecasts.

His speech, unsurprisingly, made much of the success of the “long-term economic plan delivered by a coalition Government and a Conservative Chancellor”. Yet the fact that our cities still lack the powers they need to fulfil their economic potential, and drive growth locally, will constrain future growth for large parts of the UK economy.

photo by: Martin Pettitt
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Kirsty Williams AM writes… An important step towards minimum nurse staffing levels in Wales

Today, the National Assembly for Wales voted to give me permission to bring forward a Private Members Bill to set minimum nurse staffing levels in law.

I believe this is necessary in Wales because we currently have the highest number of patients per nurse in the UK, which means that all too often our nurses are unable to give the time to perform their role to their highest caring ability.

Evidence is increasing from across the world on the positive impact that nurse staffing levels have on patient care and the recruitment and retention of staff. Nurses who have fewer patients to …

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams: St David’s Day – Wales has every right to be up there with the best

I actually got goosebumps reading this St David’s Day piece Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams wrote for Endeavour Public Affairs. It’s brimming with passion, expressing pride in and love for Wales. It’s a real uplifting read, and folk on both sides of Scotland’s independence referendum should note that this is how you inspire people.

She grabs you right from the start:

 Identity isn’t a fixed status; it is a feeling.  Personally, first and foremost, I feel Welsh; then British; then European.  Being Welsh is always the overriding sense of who I am.  I believe a reason for this is how comfortable

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William Powell AM writes…How will we power Wales’ future?

This weekend Gregynog Hall, Montgomeryshire will host the Welsh Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference for the first time in many years. This iconic setting is the perfect place to debate the policies that matter to Wales. Our Leader Kirsty Williams, Montgomeryshire Parliamentary Candidate Jane Dodds and I will be speaking, and Lord Alex Carlile will be addressing our Conference Dinner. In a real sense, it promises to be a case of Welsh Liberalism coming home.

The event will also mark the launch of the Welsh Liberal Democrat’s consultation on Energy Policy in Wales: Powering Wales’ Future.

It is no understatement to say that …

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Kirsty Williams interview: “Scary” Paddy, women in the Cabinet and the reality of a Labour government

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams has given a lively and often funny interview to Total Politics magazine in which she talks about everything from her success in persuading the minority  Labour government in Wales to implement the Pupil Premium.

What happened to the last person who said no to Paddy?

Anyone who knows Kirsty will know how down to earth she is and that comes across very much in the interview. She’s asked about whether she would move to Westminster and said that Paddy Ashdown has already asked that question:

Paddy says I should think about going to London,” Williams reveals. “He’s

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Kirsty Williams writes… Welsh Lib Dems more than double Welsh Pupil Premium

nick clegg kirsty williams - 1The Welsh Liberal Democrats were delighted to announce yesterday that we are more than doubling the Welsh Pupil Premium.

Two years ago, in a similar situation, we worked with the Welsh Government to ensure that Wales would have our own Welsh Pupil Premium. This meant that each school would get £450 per child on free school meals. This was an achievement we were rightly very proud of. However, while Liberal Democrats in England continued to increase the Pupil Premium, the unambitious Welsh Labour Government refused to do the same in Wales.

We have now changed that. Thanks to the Welsh Liberal Democrats we have more than doubled the value of the Welsh Pupil Premium, increasing funding to £918 per pupil.

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Opinion: Nick’s journey

It’s natural for defeated political leaders to make up stories which absolve themselves from blame.  After every by-election, those who have done less well offer unconvincing explanations. Nick Clegg is no exception, but his story last week that “the Liberal Democrats are on a journey from a party of protest to a party of government” is curious for two reasons. First, because no previous Liberal or Liberal Democrat leader has presented the party as one of protest and second because the party was very much a party of government before he became leader.

It is wrong and insulting to suggest that …

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Welsh LIberal Democrat councillor charged with causing an explosion

The BBC reports:

A councillor has been charged with causing an explosion after a series of blasts saw residents evacuated from homes in the north Wales town of Denbigh.

Liberal Democrat John Larsen, 46, from Lenten Pool, was arrested on Friday.

He is due to appear at Prestatyn Magistrates’ Court later on Monday.

Residents in Lenten Pool were evacuated from their homes on Friday night and again on Saturday after police and army explosive experts searched a house.

The incidents have been concentrated around the Lenten Pool area of Denbigh

North Wales Police said Mr Larsen, who represents the Central ward, was charged with causing

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams on taking up the baton from Lloyd George

As Kirsty Williams notes in opening a piece to mark the anniversary yesterday, 17 January would have been David Lloyd George’s 150th birthday, and she took the opportunity to raise the issue of tax varying powers for Wales;

Today seems like an opportune moment to consider how a future Welsh government can continue David Lloyd George’s radical and redistributive legacy.

We must take the opportunity of the Silk Commission to think big. As Lloyd George himself said, “You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” We must take the opportunity to create a new People’s Budget for Wales.

For the first

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