Adam Price’s Blog

The Blog of Adam Price AS/MP, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

Adam Price MP / AS - Carmarthen East and Dinefwr

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Archive for July, 2009

29th July 2009

Lembit and me – it just didn’t last

I read in last night’s Evening Standard (who, by the way, last week described me as ‘a shrewd Plaid Cymru MP’ – praise indeed from that quarter) that Lembit Opik has a new girlfriend in 21-year old Ultimo model Katie Green.

I was, of course, as surprised as anybody by this news as only last week, the always coy, shy and retiring Lembit was suggesting a dalliance with myself in the pages of the Observer.

Reading that, I was naturally concerned by the future direction of relations between our two parties (was Lembit taking the ‘snog, marry or avoid’ model of Assembly relations a little too seriously?). 

Lembit later told me, though, that it was a slip of the tongue, and he meant to say ‘Katie Price’ – an answer that would not have required parenthesis, even for Observer readers.

There we have it then, jilted by Lembit within 48 hours and my namesake Ms Price forgotten a week later.

Is this a record, even for Lembit?

25th July 2009

WoS and financial literacy

The recent reports from the Holtham Commission and the House of Lords’ Select Committee about the financing of Wales have put the cat amongst the pigeons – if the comments of David James from last week’s Wales on Sunday are anything to go by.

He seems to suggest that Plaid Cymru’s long-running campaign for justice for Wales, for a fair-funding scheme that is based is around needs rather than just population, is somehow flawed.

That this is an opinion backed up, only within the last month, by two of the most authoritative publications on the subject of the Barnett Formula is ignored, while he goes straight for the jugular, calling upon the might of the Centre for Economic and Business Research, to prove us wrong.

The CEBR, of course, as you might probably guess from the name, are an unashamedly pro-business right wing free-trade and free-enterprise consultancy.

They are a business themselves, selling their statistics to the highest bidder.

But let’s look a little deeper into David James’s charges against myself and my merry men, as he so jovially puts it.

Firstly, that Wales is overly-dependent upon the public sector.

Actually, figures from the Office of National Statistics show that 23% of jobs in Wales are in the public sector, while the UK average is 20%.

Higher, therefore, but not dramatically so.

Then what about his claim that high spend on public services are forcing out the private sector?

Someone should tell that to London, where the identifiable publix expenditure spend per head is 118% of the UK average, greater than either Wales or Scotland.

I don’t ever recall, though, that London has ever been described as a bastion of communism.

If there is a problem, then it is that the GDP of Wales is lower than it should be.

And if there’s a reason then it is the consistent underfunding of Wales, as a result of the Barnett Formula.

In the last decade alone, during the so-called good times, what is known as the Barnett Squeeze between the increase in public spending in England and public spend in Wales amounted to around £4.5bn lost from Wales – our schools, our hospitals, our economy.

Meanwhile, the Holtham Report estimates that, if the Barnett Formula continues in its present form, every man, woman and child in Wales would lose out on up to a further £2,900 of funding each, up to £8.5bn in the next decade.

It also shows that similarly economically disadvantaged parts of England have received far greater investment than has Wales since Labour came to power.

The report is proof that we in Plaid Cymru have been right in opposing this ill-thought out funding system for decades.

Indeed, what sort of politician would not be standing up and shouting from the rooftops about such an injustice?

Yet, David James thinks that, in claiming the funding that is rightfully ours, we are somehow doing Wales a dis-service.

The CEBR, whom he quotes as evidence for how Wales is over-reliant on the public service, actually want a massive cut in public expenditure in Wales, after we have faced decades of under-funding.

Unsurprisingly, unlike the evidence given by Plaid Cymru’s Dr Eurfyl ap Gwilym, the evidence of CEBR was given short shrift in the Lords’ report on the Barnett Formula when it came to writing up their final report.

But Wales is already facing the huge cuts being suggested by the CEBR that David James quotes.

According to Labour’s Westminster Budget this year, Wales will lose out to the tune of a further £2.2bn between 2011 and 2014.

Is this really the position of the Wales on Sunday? To impoverish the people of Wales? A very funny position for our national Sunday newspaper to take!

It certainly isn’t Plaid Cymru’s position. We believe in long-term investment in infrastructure across Wales that will make up for the lack of investment that has taken place in the past.

The second part of the Holtham Commission report will spell out further possibilities so that we can take control of our own finances here in Wales. That way, we can make decisions that are best for us, based on our own criterion, not whether England needs more schools or hospitals, as we rely on in the current system.

Policies designed and made in Wales, for Wales, just like the ProAct and ReAct schemes that have received support all across the spectrum from business organisations such as CBI Wales, to the trade unions.

Independence is a long-term aim, and one that will only take place with the agreement of the people of Wales, but what we are concerned with here are laying the foundations of a better society in Wales – one that can look after itself, without needing to go cap in hand to Westminster. But also one that gets its fair share.

23rd July 2009

Delivering for Wales

Two years into the One Wales government and Plaid’s influence and impact on policy in Wales is once again clear to see.

Today’s announcement of the electrification of the main rail line from London to Swansea is the result of sustained and serious lobbying behind the scenes from Plaid for many years, and one that has been heightened in recent months when initial whispers were that the electrification would end just short of the Welsh side of the Severn Tunnel.

The announcement itself is the culmination of more than thirty years of work on Plaid’s part (it became party policy in 1977), dating back to a time even before I joined the party.

If there is one man who can take credit for this, then it must be the Deputy First Minister of Wales, with the economic and transport brief in the cabinet.

Our political opponents in the Assembly have been wrong-footed once again by Ieuan Wyn Jones success in delivering effective government change.

This comes on top of the recent unemployment figures, which UK wide showed the greatest ever increase, but a decrease in Wales.

Thousands of people are still in work in Wales thanks to the impact of the schemes that Ieuan has pushed through and brought into being.

In a time of spin and political opportunism from so many, it’s refreshing, once again, to see a Plaid Cymru minister delivering for Wales.

14th July 2009

Journalism in the dock…

An extraordinary fascinating session today at the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in which Nick Davies dramatically produced hard evidence to support the Guardian’s claim that, contrary to the claims of its executives, more than one News of the World reporter had known about the use of illegally intercepted phone messages.  The relative lack of  media interest so far in the stories – nothing I could see in the London Evening Standard, a piece well down the running order on the Radio Four six o’clock news  - is a little bit perturbing given the fairly astonishing nature of the claims, now substantiated by strong prima facie evidence given to the Committee: that the Chief Reporter of the NOTW, Neville Thurlbeck, had known about the illegal hacking,  contradicting all previous statements made by NOTW including Friday’s carefully crafted line-by-line denial.  It also raises serious questions for the police and the CPS. 

One additional piece of the jigsaw I raised this morning was the allegation made by Private Eye in July 2007 that Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the story, had been paid close to £200,000 by the paper after he left jail in return for a non-disclosure agreement.  (The magazine also suggested a similar deal was in the offing for Clive Goodman, the jailed NOTW reporter)  If that were to prove true the charge made against the NOTW that they were attempting to suppress information – by buying the silence of not just victims like Gordon Taylor but also the perpetrators – would start to look quite plausible.  The charge was repeated by Peter Burden in his must-read book of the moment:  “Fake Sheiks & Royal Trappings”.  As Burden points out, News International have never denied this nor, to my knowledge, has Glenn Mulcaire.  News International executives will have an opportunity to confirm the truth of this next Tuesday when I’m sure we will have yet another  pretty explosive session.

8th July 2009

The Cricket Test….

Great to see some support from Down Under for the campaign for a Welsh Cricket Team.  Here’s a piece from the Sydney Morning Herald quoting this blog:

“When Australians talk of the Ashes, they talk about playing the Poms, but in Welsh there’s an organisation called Bwrdd Criced Cymru a Lloegr, otherwise known as the England AND Wales Cricket Board.

England sides have been sprinkled with Welsh players over the years, but to the disgust of Welsh cricket fans, the Welsh contribution is never acknowledged. They say the name England is akin to calling the West Indies “Jamaica” and some think Wales should go it alone.

Adam Price, an MP with the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru in the British Parliament, says on his blog: “It’s a mystery why a Celtic country with the strongest cricket tradition is hidden under the umbrella of England’s team when Scotland and Ireland have independent teams. Wales has more cricket teams than Scotland and Ireland combined. The standard of a Welsh Test team would surely equal at least Zimbabwe or Bangladesh.”

I look forward to the day that Wales isn’t relegated on the international cricketing circuit to the role of twelfth man.