Commentary: Goodies and Baddies

The resignation of Sir Roderick Evans as Standards Commissioner of the Assembly has spotlighted a serious situation within the Assembly around the confidence of Assembly Members and others in the way that the standards process is operating. Ever since Sir Roderick dismissed a case some years ago involving a video Gareth Bennett AM made depicting Joyce Watson AM as not having been sexist when 99% of people who saw it believed it clearly was, questions have quite rightly been asked about the way his office is operating. Indeed, a range of organisations including those involved in equality issues such as the Electoral Reform Society, Women’s Equality Network and Welsh Women’s… Read More

Continue Reading

Commentary: A False Start

The General Election has so far seen a way higher profile for Wales than anyone expected – and for all the wrong reasons. For over a week the main political stories have revolved around what some Conservative candidates have said either on social media, or more seriously, in the courtroom; or, from an explicitly political angle, to each other. It has become a matter of who knew what and when, and the extent to which cover ups have been fashioned and blind eyes turned. The upshots so far have been that Ross England has been suspended as the Conservative Assembly candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan, and Alun Cairns has… Read More

Continue Reading

Commentary: Time and Chance

The twists and turns of Brexit once more dominated the politics of Wales at every level. On Tuesday, the full publication of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill led to not just discussion in Westminster but an emergency debate in the Senedd too. Since it was a relatively focused debate and actually was conducted on the basis of something substantial, it offered insight and passion rather than simple grandstanding or gesture politics. Nevertheless, it did seem, even just a few hours later, that the whole exercise had been really irrelevant since the Commons had rejected the programme motion and thereby stalled the Bill. As the week rolled on, the gambits by an… Read More

Continue Reading

Commentary: Polls Apart

This week’s Welsh barometer opinion poll told us a variety of things. Whilst it is probably too early to read too much accurately into the predictive figures for Assembly voting intentions, the numbers expressed for voting intention in a UK General Election in Wales made interesting reading. The Conservatives were pointed to get 29% of the vote and win 17 of the 40 seats, all at the expense of Labour who were predicted to end up on 18 seats based on a 25% share. This was a dramatic shift, while the Lib Dems and Plaid were forecast to just hold on to their current number of seats. Confronted with this… Read More

Continue Reading

Commentary: The power of blasphemy

“The Welsh Government is not an institute of angels,” asserted Alun Davies AM (Lab, Blaenau Gwent), the fallen angel Lucifer of Assembly politics and our nearest thing to a Minister Emeritus. His powerful comments came in a seminar organised by the Electoral Reform Society and the Bevan Foundation around the role of Welsh Civic Society and were made in reference to the timidity he and most of the room felt about the robustness by which many challenge, critique and respond to Welsh Government policies. His thinking was shaped by many experiences, including the point in the last Assembly where an essentially state funded charity made the controversial statement that there… Read More

Continue Reading

Commentary: One week, two conferences

At the start of the week, the Conservatives met in Manchester for their conference. At the end of the week, Plaid Cymru is meeting in Swansea for theirs. The two events could not be more different as far as Wales is concerned. The Conservatives arguably had less Welsh focus than for years, with new Assembly group leader Paul Davies removed from the agenda and confined to a fringe meeting. Meanwhile, Alun Cairns was spotted eating ice cream with Boris and used his own conference platform to argue for a stronger UK union when we leave the European one. All of which is a world away from Plaid Cymru’s core messages… Read More

Continue Reading

Commentary: Harsh words

The arrival of BBC Question Time in the Senedd last night was rather symbolic. With the programme dominated by events in Parliament and the Supreme Court, it seemed natural that the Question Time should be too. After all, from the moment that the Assembly plenary session began this week an urgent question was allowed to enable the First Minister to be questioned on the outcome of the Supreme Court judgement. Not that the response to the outcome was anything really to do with him, but that sort of logical dividing line between governments and legislatures doesn’t really seem to matter anymore. This was also the week in which the issue… Read More

Continue Reading

Commentary: Back Blast

As Assembly Members return, perhaps the most interesting story of the week was the verdict of the Standards Commissioner in respect of Leanne Wood AM calling a prominent and acerbic blogger an “Arsehole.” She did so in response to an attack by him on her colleague Delyth Jewell AM. For this action, Leanne has refused to apologise, and her group is standing with her, as are a number of other AMs. The case is not isolated. Hefin David AM has also been censured for using the term “coc oen” during a Twitter debate. Unlike Leanne, he has accepted he did wrong and does not object to his censure. Yet, in… Read More

Continue Reading

Review: Welsh Spring Party Conference Season

Daran Hill Once upon a time, Welsh spring party conference season used to last a little over a month. Now it seems to last a lot longer and this year’s prolonged Welsh season means your memory (or lack of) relating to the first such event may be blurred somewhat by the time we get to the final one. As a sort of aide de memoir, here’s the Positif shorthand take of each of the party conferences. Plaid Cymru: Way back in March, Bangor was added to the array of Welsh conference venues for the first time in modern political memory. The venue gave the chance to showcase the Pontio building… Read More

Continue Reading

POSITIF THINKING PANEL DISCUSSION

HEALTHY WEIGHT: HEALTHY WALES Wednesday 22nd May, 6pm, Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay In January 2019 the Health Minister Vaughan Gething AM launched a consultation on the Welsh Government’s new plan to combat the greatest public health challenge facing Wales – obesity. Called ‘Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales’, it outlines the actions to be taken to help people in Wales maintain a healthy weight.   The consultation will end on 12 April 2019. Positif Thinking will be holding a panel discussion to discuss the responses to this consultation and taking a look forward at its 4 main themes: Leadership and enabling change – Healthy environments Healthy settings Healthy People Our panel members will include… Read More

Continue Reading