Thursday, 12 November 2009

A sign of things to come...










The friend or foe debate

The final Labour party debate between the three candidates hoping to succeed Rhodri Morgan as leader in Wales will take place in Cardiff later.

The winner, announced in December, will also become Welsh First Minister.

Health Minister Edwina Hart, Counsel General Carwyn Jones and and AM Huw Lewis will argue their case before party members at Cardiff County Hall.

The three candidates can also be seen going head-to-head on Dragon's Eye on BBC One Wales tonight.

Voting by Welsh Labour members, local parties, affiliated groups, MPs, AMs and its MEP ends on 26 November.

The victor is due to be declared at around 1600 GMT on Tuesday, 1 December.

But the winner will have to wait around a week after that before her or she is confirmed as head of the Welsh Assembly Government.

The Labour hustings meeting, following four previous events in Rhyl, Narberth, Newport and Swansea, is not open to the wider public or media.

A television audience will also be able to see them taking part in the BBC Wales debate in front of a public audience later on Thursday night. The programme was recorded on Wednesday.

Dragon's Eye Debates, chaired by Betsan Powys, is broadcast at 2245 BST on Thursday BBC One Wales.

Glasgow North East by-election

The seat was vacated by former Commons Speaker Michael Martin, who resigned amid the Westminster expenses row.

Voters will go to the polls today to elect one of 13 candidates as an MP.

The parties have set a goal to knock on thousands of doors in the constituency, amid predictions turnout on polling day could be crucial to the final result.

Labour, which has been the main political force in the Glasgow North East area for 74 years, is defending a majority of some 10,000 votes from the 2005 General Election.

The party said the poll would be a "referendum on the treatment of Glasgow" by the SNP.
It said the Scottish government's budget for the coming year would see a cut in the city's housing budget, a low increase in the area's health board and a failure to build new schools in Glasgow.

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray, who was joined by candidate Willie Bain and actor Eddie Izzard on the campaign trail, said: "It is increasingly clear that the poll is now a referendum on the treatment of Glasgow. This issue has dominated the campaign because Glaswegians care passionately about the city."

Meanwhile, SNP candidate David Kerr insisted that, after 74 years of Labour taking the area for granted, it was time for change.

"Voters have seen the success of the last two years of SNP Government, and it's time to bring some of that success to Glasgow and to Westminster," said Mr Kerr.

He added: "Labour's campaign has been built on smears and scaremongering. They have nothing positive to say about their own record or ideas for this area."

The Liberal Democrats argue their policy of tax reforms is chiming with the voters who want action on the economy, while the Conservatives are hoping for a strong showing to boost their hopes of a UK election victory.

Tory candidate Ruth Davidson said: "The voters know that they face a stark choice - more of this tired and failing Labour government or hope and change from David Cameron's Conservatives. We want to get Glasgow working again."

Eileen Baxendale, the Liberal Democrat candidate, visited a car wash and valeting company in the constituency on the final day of polling.

Joined by Scottish party leader Tavish Scott, she said: "This is another example of a great, local, small business facing tough times as a direct result of Labour's recession - if people in Glasgow North East want to wash away years of neglect from the Labour party then they should vote for the Liberal Democrats."

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

EU [leaders] to decide top jobs next week

The EU will hold a special summit on 19 November to decide the new top jobs of EU president and foreign policy chief.

"The extra informal summit... will take the form of a working dinner in Brussels," a spokesman for the Swedish EU presidency said.

The appointments will be made by the leaders of the 27 member states, by a qualified majority vote.

Belgium's Prime Minister, Herman van Rompuy, has emerged as a frontrunner for the post of EU president.

THE PRESIDENT'S ROLE

  • Chosen by 27 member states by qualified majority vote
  • Two-and-a-half-year term
  • Can be re-elected once
  • Chairs EU summits
  • Drives forward the work of EU Council of Ministers
  • Facilitates cohesion and consensus
  • Represents the EU on the world stage

Oh, and the other important new post of High Representative for Foreign Affairs, of which two have already ruled themselves out. Whoever gets that job will also become vice president of the European Commission.

The Voice of Unemployed Reasoning

Unemployment in Wales has risen sharply in the three months between July and September, latest figures indicate.

The Welsh jobless total increased by 14,000, more than half the increase for the UK as a whole, to 125,000.

It was the second consecutive three month period when Wales lost more jobs than any other UK nation or region.

Over to the comforting bureaucratic soul of WAG:

The Welsh Assembly Government said the quarterly rise was "disappointing" but a spokesperson said it did not reflect the trend over the year.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Hutt hurts figures in Newport

A city council has been rapped over the knuckles by the Assembly Government – for supporting too many deprived children.

Newport Council has been told that instead of helping 1,607 children from poorer parts of the city, it must spend more per child but help only 1,122 of them.

Education Minister Jane Hutt has ordered the city council to spend £2,100 on each child in the scheme rather than following its current policy of reducing the sum to £1,600 so it can help more children.

Flying Start provides support for children aged up to three and includes part-time childcare, extra levels of involvement from health visitors, parenting programmes and help with basic skills.

Newport City Council deputy leader Ed Townsend said: “This is a pilot scheme funded until 2011 so far and one of the purposes of a pilot is to test the systems to make sure they work.

“In Newport, we are making the systems work very well indeed and we want to help as many families as possible.

“We do not want to cut families out of Flying Start just because civil servants want the numbers to look the same all over Wales. Flying Start is an excellent scheme, welcomed by health and childcare professionals.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Foreign Office to cut 100 vital jobs

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have been criticised for their proposal to cut the jobs of 100 British diplomats serving in some of the most sensitive parts of the world.

The FCO's plans will remove up to 134 UK civil servants serving as management officers in UK embassies around the globe and replace them with staff recruited locally. Management Officers are responsible for the oversight of embassy staffing, finances, property and security.

Localisation if staff is planned in approximately 50 countries, including Iran, Iraq, Russia, China and Nigeria, where the FCO plans to recruit staff to manage day-to-day running of UK embassies.

The current roles and duties include dealing with security risks and a threat of espionage and organised crime.

It appears that someone [Ministers] needs to be asking questions!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Remembrance


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