Thursday, 13 May 2010


Ended up getting involved in Dragons Eye speed dating exercise (between the big 4 political parties in Wales) filmed in the (highly recommended and very welcoming) WHAT Café by the Hand Post (in Newport) yesterday - it will be broadcast at 7pm (on BBC 2 Wales) and well after the news at 11.35pm (on BBC 1 Wales) tonight. Oddly enough it's not a programme I watch - being involved in politics I tend to avoid 'political' programmes like the plague. A similar thing happened to me previously as when I was working for the Metropolitan Police Press Office I stopped watching the Bill.

Anyway despite the somewhat artificial cobbled together nature of the exercise it was an interesting non partisan way to spend an hour and a quarter (which may end up as 5 mins tops after editing) seeing what we had in common. The Labour and Lib Dem representatives agreed that Wales needed fair funding and that Wales had been underfunded, that Barnet had to go and that replacing it with Holtham (in full) was the way to go (the Tory didn't) - he never even recognised that Wales had been short-changed, despite years and years of contributions to the central pot.

There, were however, refreshingly some areas of common ground, for example we agreed (all of us) that front line NHS services needed to be protected from any future cuts. There was even some common ground on exiting Afghanistan and growing the green economy and green jobs (Plaid, Lab and Lib Dems).

The Lib Dems also agreed that we needed a referendum on more powers and that the National Assembly needed the tools to do the job - never got the chance to discuss that with the Tory representative though. Touched on Trident with the Lib Dems, just touched on better care for our service personnel their families and veterans with the Tory and the need for an independent venture capital fund to grow small to medium sized businesses and that small businesses are the life blood of our communities, and the need to scrap business rates, when proceedings got called to a halt.

We were summing up in a non partisan way and commenting on the things that we all had in common, when the Lib Dem went a tad off message to try and score a cheap political point (well that is what they do best!) talking about the elephant in the room i.e. the fact that shock horror - Plaid wants independence for Wales! Now this is no secret, it's not like we have hidden it, we are proud of it - it's a long term aim - what's yours is a serious question that needs to be asked!

Now the last election and the next one won't be fought on it, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the opposition parties will bring it up to try and cloud the issue, perhaps to distract from the lack of Wales focused polices and the fact that they are merely paying lip-service to improving Wales as they are branch offices of their London based Parties. 

To be honest, with a few honourable exceptions and certainly not as people, I do heartily dislike the Lib Dems, at least with the Tories and New and Old Labour, you get what is says on the tin. The Lib Dems are different, hungry for power (and all the trimmings that go with it) at every level of government they are prepared to say and do anything for power, at a local level they have talked up a scare about the threatened closure of a local post office (which was not under threat) and have campaigned vociferously for speed humps (for 6 months) only when they prove ineffective and exceptionally noisy to residents, then spend the next 6 months campaigning to get rid of them!

What will happen in the next few weeks and months is that pretty rapidly the Voters both locally and nationally will come to regret voting Lib Dem - especially when the cuts start to bite. The Tories both locally and nationally may also yet come to regret bringing the Lib Dems on board. From the Lib Dem perspective trading the prospect of a referendum on STV for a more limited form of PR for a few ministerial limousines may prove in the medium to long term their undoing. Additionally I suspect that many voters will never trust or vote for them again.


  1. It's true that Speed humps are ineffective, unfortunately there is currently a national obsession with trying to slow everything down that means such schemes are preferable to good (expensive) road design solutions. However, the current state of both Church Road and Sandy Lane in Caldicot should be highlighted as examples of what happens when councils blindly follow this route trying to save money in the short-term. Quite what sort of state our roads are going to be in by the time the government is in a position to start loosening the spending strings again, god himself probably doesn't even know.

    Plaid have more of a role to play in Welsh politics (and in Monmouthshire for definite), than ever before. With a Con/Lib government and the Labour party rebuilding, now should be the time when the party starts to lay the groundwork that will pay dividends in next year's assembly elections and the following general election. However, I am concerned that with standard left-wing policies such as the party is currently pursuing, we aren't offering anything genuinely eye-catching or popular with enough of the Welsh electorate to make that big step. Unfortunately, British politics is increasingly becoming reliant on flash policies and 'presidential' leaders. Until Plaid takes a big step towards that more modern style, we risk remaining as a fourth-place party.

  2. I am a firm believer in traffic calming (especially around schools) when it is done properly (as part of a range of measures to slow and reduce traffic speed) it works pretty well, speed humps by themselves will never work properly.

    The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study which suggests that 20mph zones in residential areas on London save lives and reduce the children killed or injured in road accidents and has called for the expansion of the Home Zone scheme to residential areas across Wales.

  3. If that scheme was linked with some more expanded trials of the work done in Holland by Hans Monderman, then I'd be all for it. I think that traffic speed should be controlled by re-introducing fear and uncertainty to drivers instead of looking at obstructions that only serve to increase the environmental costs.