Category Archives: Wales

In case you missed it… How the Welsh did for Margaret Thatcher

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Breaking news: Welsh Lib Dems select Chris Twells as lead candidate for North Wales

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have selected local campaigner Chris Twells as the party’s lead candidate for the North Wales region at the next National Assembly for Wales election.

North Wales elected a Welsh Liberal Democrat AM at every election until 2016, when UKIP won two seats.

Chris was selected by Welsh Liberal Democrat members living in Ynys Mon, Arfon, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham in an all-member ballot.

Chris was born in St Asaph and brought up in Rhosesmor, Flintshire, attending the Alun School in Mold before going on to study Law at the University of York. He has been an active Liberal Democrat member since joining the party as a student because of its strong pro-European stance and support for human rights.

Caradog Steffan John, a fluent Welsh speaker and former researcher at the Assembly was chosen as the second candidate for the North Wales list and Wrexham Councillor Rob Walsh secured third place. Donna Lalek, a Community Councillor from Flintshire and the second-placed candidate at the recent European election, will be the fourth candidate.

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The rest of us can learn from what the Welsh are doing with education….

Two recent press releases have caught my eye. As PPC for North Devon, a rural economy where, on average, schools get £300 less per pupil than in the rest of England, I am keen on education reform. Key to that is ensuring good teaching and supporting our teachers.

So I was pleased to see that Welsh Lib Dem Education Secretary Kirsty Williams has announced the single biggest investment in Wales’ teachers since devolution. This is through a groundbreaking £24m package to help teachers deliver Wales’ new curriculum. Kirsty says,

This major investment shows how highly we value teachers’ professional learning. It is an investment in excellence and we are aiming for nothing less than a wholesale reform of how teachers learn; a process that starts from the moment they begin initial teacher education and goes right the way through their career.

The National Approach to Professional Learning (NAPL) will focus on flexible ways of learning that don’t disrupt the school day. A much more accessible blend of learning will be available through Wales’ regions and universities. This will encompass learning outside the classroom, online learning, classroom learning and coaching.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds commented,

This announcement is yet another example of the transformational reforms the Welsh Lib Dems are implementing in our national mission to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and public confidence.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are committed to creating a Wales where every child has the opportunity to achieve their potential and determine their own destiny. This funding will help us realise this vision.

Not only are the Welsh investing in teachers, but they are also protecting rural schools.  Kirsty Williams introduced a new, stronger code last week which includes a presumption against the closure of rural schools. This is part of a wider Rural Education Plan which also includes a Small and Rural Schools Grant.

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Welsh Lib Dems say Whole Systems Approach needed to children’s services

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have warned that a rigorous approach to children’s services is necessary to secure the quality services needed. This follows from the WLGA claiming children’s services in Wales are nearly at “crisis point.”

The past nine years have seen a 149% increase in court applications to remove children into care. Between March 2009 and March 2007 there was a 27% increase in the number of children in care in Wales.

Cllr Rhys Taylor, Welsh Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson commented:

Whilst the WLGA are right to highlight financial constraints as a key

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The Lib Dem week in Wales

welsh lib demsHere is our weekly roundup of what the Liberal Democrats, led by Kirsty Williams, have been getting up to in Wales.

In the Scottish roundup, we saw Tavish Scott condemn the late CAP payments to farmers. Labour in Wales have been just as bad, with Kirsty Williams telling Wales Online that farmers were under so much pressure that they have been calling her on the brink of suicide:

Farmers have been calling on the brink of suicide due to the financial difficulties they face.

This is on top of the fact that, because of the mishandling of the changes to farming support by Welsh Government, farmers were already only to receive 80% of their entitlement.

Like any business, farmers have bills to pay. They rely heavily on the December payments to pay those bills, so it has a knock-on effect to the wider rural economy. The Welsh LabourGovernment need to sort this mess out and they need to sort it out quickly.

Tackling Doctor shortage

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The Lib Dem week in Wales

Here is our weekly roundup of what the Welsh Liberal Democrats, led by Kirsty Williams, have been getting up to..

Labour waste money on ad campaign for a metro system that won’t be in use for 5 years

Welsh Labour metro billboard wasteEluned Parrott AM has blasted the Labour Welsh Government for wasting over £52,000 on an advertising campaign intended to promote the South Wales Metro.

Over recent months, posters, light boxes and banners simply saying “It’s approaching” have been appearing in train stations across South Wales.   The posters feature no useful information for the public, but instead just have the word ‘Metro’ and the Welsh Government’s logo on them.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are huge supporters of the South Wales Metro system, but believe money would be better spent on an information campaign that informs and consults with the public.

In response to a written question from Eluned Parrott AM, the Labour Transport Minister Edwina Hart stated that:

the total committed expenditure relating to marketing and information relating to South Wales Metro as of 30 November 2015 is £52,782+VAT.

Work is not expected to start on the Metro system until 2017 and the Welsh Government has made clear that the project will not be complete until at least 2020.

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Video – Kirsty Williams bonus

As a follow on to our earlier post, this was the video played last night at Cardiff City hall just before Kirsty Williams received her award as Welsh Assembly Member of the year. It’s worth watching. Kirsty can certainly “kick arse”.

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams – Scottish independence result will have ‘colossal impact’ on Wales and UK

rally kirsty williams 1Kirsty Wiliams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has added her voice to those calling for Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom. Here’s an excerpt of what she had to say at BBC Online:

I firmly believe that Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom. 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. It’s clear that the constitutional make-up of the entire UK will have to change even if the No side wins.

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Fairer funding for Wales: “Lib Dems will actually do something about it,” vows Kirsty Williams

rally kirsty williams 1Yesterday we reported plans from Lib Dem home office minister Norman Baker to restore the public’s trust in the police. Another policy within the party’s ‘pre-manifesto’ is reported by BBC News Online – to reform the funding arrangement that has long been criticised for short-changing Wales:

Wales could benefit from hundreds of millions of pounds under Lib Dem plans to change the way funds are allocated to devolved nations, it has been claimed. The current system, known as the Barnett formula, is based on population levels and has long been criticised for short-changing Wales. Suggestions to re-draw the formula have been fiercely resisted in Scotland.

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Kirsty Williams condemns sacked Welsh Labour environment minister’s “smear campaign”

Kirsty WilliamsKirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Lib Dems, has condemned Labour’s environment minister Alun Davies – sacked today by First Minister Carwyn Jones – for mounting a smear campaign. Mr Davies had asked for details of farm subsidies paid to five opposition AMs: Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies and Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams, Conservative AM Antoinette Sandbach, Liberal Democrat William Powell and Plaid Cymru’s Llyr Gruffydd.

Here’s Kirsty Williams’ response:

The actions of Alun Davies as a Minister are atrocious and completely unacceptable for anyone serving in public

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‘The Welsh Liberals’: new book published this month

welsh liberalsPublished this month: The Welsh Liberals: The History of the Liberal and Liberal Democrat parties in Wales.

Despite being Wales’ oldest political party this is the first published history of the Welsh Liberal Party or its successor, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Party.

The Welsh Liberals: The History of the Liberal and Liberal Democrat parties in Wales charts the highs and lows of an extraordinary party.

This comprehensive study includes over 40 interviews with senior figures from within the Welsh Liberal Party, the Welsh SDP and Welsh Liberal Democrat Party.

You can order it from …

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Kirsty Williams and Danny Alexander write… Wales offered tax raising powers

Welsh Dragon Swag BagToday, the Coalition Government has committed to reaching the next great milestone in Welsh devolution by taking forward the key recommendations of the Silk Commission.

As a party that believes in devolution and has campaigned for decades to deliver more power for Wales, this is a huge win for the Liberal Democrats. Can you imagine a Tory or Labour Government devolving these powers from London?

Currently the National Assembly of Wales is unique amongst the rest of the world. It can make laws, spend money, but it can’t control how much it raises through tax. For over a decade, Labour refused to let go of the purse strings. But where Labour failed, the Liberal Democrats have acted.

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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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Kirsty Williams AM writes: Why Welsh Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru have joined forces

welsh-liberal-democratsThis week, and much to the surprise of many political commentators in Wales, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and I held a joint press conference announcing that we are to join forces to negotiate with the Welsh Labour Government on next year’s budget settlement.

In the National Assembly, the Welsh Government has exactly half of the Assembly Members. Therefore, each year the Welsh Government needs the support of at least one of the opposition parties to pass their annual budget. In the past, this has given the …

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Kirsty Williams on criticism of the Coalition: “It knocked my confidence.”

nick clegg kirsty williams - 1It’s the Welsh Lib Dems’ conference this weekend and Kirsty Williams will take the opportunity to argue that a “crucial turning point” has been reached, reports BBC News:

At the conference in Cardiff, Ms Williams will claim the fact the Lib Dems retained third place in the Cardiff South and Penarth by-election last November, albeit with a much reduced share of the vote, was a “sign post that things were changing” for the party.

“Eastleigh was a turning point,” she will say. “Yes, the criticisms of our

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What’s on at Welsh Liberal Democrat Conference this weekend?

A public service announcement from the Welsh Liberal Democrats follows…

With record numbers of delegates attending and five Lib Dem Government Ministers taking part, the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference taking place this weekend already looks as if it’s going to be a memorable one.

Highlights on the agenda include:

  • Keynote speeches – Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will be opening Conference, with speeches later on in the weekend also come from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander and Welsh Liberal Democrat party Leader Kirsty Williams.
  • Gala dinner –Vince Cable MP will be guest speaker at the Conference Dinner. Unsurprisingly, tickets for this

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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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And now, the award-winning Assembly Member for Brecon and Radnor…

Big congratulations to Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, who was voted ‘Assembly Member of the Year’ at the ITV Wales Welsh Politician of the Year awards ceremony in Cardiff on Tuesday.

Accepting her award, Kirsty Williams quoted Violet Bonham-Carter saying:

I often hear it suggested that women will bring gentleness into politics. I am not altogether sure that this is right.

Kirsty was commended for bringing politicians of all hues together, in Cardiff and in Westminster, for the benefit of Wales.

Earlier on in the year, the Welsh …

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Opinion: more freedom, more responsibility, more accountability for Wales

The launch of the Silk Commission’s first report this week is a real win for liberalism.

The report looks at the financial powers that the National Assembly for Wales should have, how accountable it is for its spending and how we ensure effective economic policy is rewarded. I welcome the report’s declaration that a number of taxes, such as air passenger duty and landfill tax, should be devolved. But more significantly, the report also recommends that by 2020, …

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High Court orders recount in Denbighshire election mix-up

Previously we reported how a block of votes for Labour candidate Paul Penlington were wrongly counted as being for similarly named Conservative rival Allan Pennington in the Prestatyn North ward count this May.

The High Court has now ordered a recount:

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New economic think-tank for Wales

Last Thursday saw the launch of a centre-right think tank in Wales called Gorwel (Horizon) chaired by the Conservative Assembly Member, David Melding, and including Lib Dems, such as Russell Deacon, Plaid Cymru members and non-party people.

It’s an attempt to challenge the status quo in Wales try and improve Wales economically.

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Is the end in sight for Returning Officer bonuses?

I’ve written often enough before about the problems with the “bonus” payments that Returning Officers receive for doing their job at election time. One problem is that they receive the bonuses in full even if they have messed up dreadfully, though that is now changing. The other is that the grounds for having the bonuses in the first place are pretty thin:

The role of being Returning Officer goes with having a job – typically council chief executive –  that is usually well paid to begin with (often six figure salaries) and where anyone taking on the job knows

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Denbighshire County Council admits votes were counted wrong

Voters had to take some care when voting in Prestatyn North on May 3rd, as the Labour candidate was called Paul Penlington and the Conservative Allan Pennington. But the council’s counting staff did not take the same care when it came to the count, as WalesOnline reports:

Returning officer and council chief executive Mohammed Mehmet said a block of ballot papers which should have been allocated to the Labour candidate Paul Penlington were “inadvertently” allocated to Tory Allan Pennington, who won the last of the three seats available on the ward.

Mr Penlington or Labour now have until May 24 to decide whether

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The local elections results open thread

The polls have closed, so where are we?

England

Elections have been held for 128 councils. In most cases one third of the seats were being contested. Altogether 6706 seats were up for election, of which 1170 were held by Liberal Democrats.

Ten English cities have been holding referendums on whether to have a directly elected mayor. They are Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.

Doncaster was voting on whether to abolish its directly elected mayor.

Three cities – London, Salford and Liverpool – have been electing a mayor.

  • London: 7 candidates, with Brian Paddick waving the Lib Dem flag.
  • Salford: 10 candidates, including

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Cardiff Labour candidate faces police investigation over their home address

Following a referral by Cardiff Council’s Electoral Registration Officer, the police are investigating one of the city’s Labour council candidates over allegations that he provided a false home address for use on the ballot papers.

Luke Holland gave as his address a property that he moved out of last year. However that old address is in the ward where he is standing and his current address is outside the ward. Mr Holland does not deny the crux of the allegations, having told the media:

It is true that I currently rent a flat in a neighbouring ward – a fact that

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Labour candidate suspended over ‘kill Justin Bieber’ jibe

Via @suttonnick:

Western Mail front page -

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Kirsty Williams launches the 2012 Welsh Liberal Democrat campaign

Under the slogan ‘Wales CAN do better’, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, launched the campaign for the 2012 local government elections in Cardiff yesterday.

I am extremely proud of our record in local councils all across Wales. When you vote for a Welsh Liberal Democrat councillor on May 3rd, you will be voting for a councillor who will work hard for you and your community and a councillor that will go that extra mile.

When people in a local authority put their trust in Welsh Liberal Democrat councillors,

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Labour pulp election leaflets over Welsh language comments

From WalesOnline:

Labour has pulped 5,000 copies of a Cardiff council election leaflet because it contains a resident’s comment that they “can’t apply for most jobs in Wales because you need to speak Welsh”…

A Welsh Labour spokesman said: “Following external production of a leaflet for the Ely ward in Cardiff, the local party identified a small paragraph which contained words from a local resident that clearly ran contrary to Welsh Labour’s policy position and core beliefs…

“The leaflet in question – leaked to the South Wales Echo with the claim that it was being distributed – was stolen from a storage

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Emlyn Hooson (1925-2012)

It is with much regret that Liberal Democrat Voice has received word that Lord Hooson, former Liberal MP for Montgomeryshire, passed away peacefully yesterday.

Emlyn Hooson was educated at Denbigh Grammar School and University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, before serving in the Royal Navy in World War II. By 1960, he had become the youngest ever Queen’s Counsel, whilst rising swiftly through the ranks of the Liberal Party, chairing the Welsh Liberal Party from 1955.

When Clement Davies died in 1962, Emlyn was selected to fight the resultant by-election for a Parliamentary seat which had been continuously Liberal since 1880, and he …

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Richard Thomas is Welsh Lib Dems’ new Chief Executive

Richard Thomas started today as the Chief Executive of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

The BBC reports:

The Welsh Liberal Democrats’ former head of communications has been appointed as the party’s chief executive.

Richard Thomas takes up the post as the Lib Dems get ready for local elections in all Welsh councils in May.

He takes over from Joanne Foster who now works for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

As well as his previous job with the party, he has worked for Lib Dem MPs and as a public affairs consultant.

Here’s how Richard shared the news on Twitter:

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  • User AvatarAnthony Acton 15th Dec - 3:02pm
    It's a narrow point, but the way the BBC and Fiona Bruce set Jo Swinson up with that rigged Question Time audience still rankles. Jo...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 15th Dec - 2:55pm
    What a wholly inappropriate statement by someone holding the title of Director of Campaigns and Elections after what in my considered judgement is the worst...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 15th Dec - 2:52pm
    @Martin What kind of world do you live in? It’s not me blaming the EU. Crikey, its parent, the old EEC, together with the IMF...
  • User AvatarTom Harney 15th Dec - 2:49pm
    My question is this - is the Liberal Democrat party liberal? I was just reading our constitution, especially the bit about no one being enslaved...
  • User AvatarAndrew T 15th Dec - 2:48pm
    Another thing I might add is that the reason both Labour and the Lib Dems lost ground in terms of seats was former Labour voters...
  • User AvatarPeter 15th Dec - 2:32pm
    So, the main points are: don't blame the hard working volunteers, our lack of media coverage was the main problem and don't leave all the...
Tue 7th Jan 2020