Monday, May 07, 2007

Goodbye...for now?

It has literally taken three days to recover from Thursday night and Friday morning !

After five weeks of solid campaigning by a great team, we didn't make it, although we did increase our vote by over 1800.

Indeed, our target of 6500 to win was just missed, and we certainly did not expect either the Lib-Dem and the Labour vote to collapse in the way it did.

Congratulations to Gareth Jones for a very good campaign and, for a first-time politician, I have certainly learnt a lot of lessons which will be digested if I decide to ride this rollercoaster again.

Back to the worlds of academia and business for now - future comments will be back on the professor who shoots from the hip blog

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

End of the road?

Well, that's it, apart from our GOTV (Get out the vote campaign) which will be ongoing until late tonight.

I really didn't know what I would be getting myself into when I agreed to be put forward for nomination last February. It is has been a steep learning curve for someone who was a political virgin but a highly enjoyable experience.

Yes, I would have done some things differently but I believe we have done everything we can in the short time we have had to get the Conservative vote out in Aberconwy.

Our campaign has been based on talking to people on the doorstep, many of whom had not spoken to a politician in years. When I finished last night, I realised we had spent 300 hours canvassing nearly 15,000 homes across Aberconwy (and I have nearly worn out a pair of brand new shoes!). We had even delivered 10,000 leaflets by foot in the last 48 hours!

Therefore, if we don't manage to win, it won't be through lack of effort (and I am absolutely knackered!)

Best moments - no doubt it has been given the opportunity to talk to the thousands of potential voters across the constituency, despite having DC visit Llandudno on Tuesday being a close second.

I have also largely enjoyed the increase in blogging during this election, especially when it has involved intelligent discussion on sites such as Ordovicius and BlamerBell. However, the blogosphere has revealed the worst side of an increasing number of political activists who believe they can say what they like under the cover of anonymity. Interesting that they have forgotten that a 90 year old pensioner in Penrhyn Bay will be as influential as they will be on the most important day of the election - May 3rd.

Perhaps, the biggest surprise of this election has been the absence of any other parties when we have been out, with the exception of seeing Denise having lunch in a cafe in Trefriw when Brynle and I were out canvassing!
Apart from that, I haven't seen the others out doing house to house canvassing but that could be due to the size of the constituency, although many people were complaining that no-one had called.

And my prediction... all I can say is that we know exactly how much we need to win this seat and will be working this out as we go through the day.


It is now up to the thousands of voters who have said they will support us (as well as those who are making up their minds at the last minute) to turn out and if they do, it will be an interesting morning tomorrow...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Last week begins....

Couple of interesting articles first thing this morning.

The first is the claim by Peter Hain that his party's canvassing returns shows that the Conservatives will win six seats from Labour on Thursday. Would be interested to know if the Labour Party is happy to make details of this polling public?

The second is the comment in the Western Mail on good weather where I have been slightly misquoted by Martin Shipton!

I actually said that it is possible that an increased turnout will benefit us as any additional turnout will mean more Conservatives, who were ambivalent and didn't vote at the last Assembly election, will vote this time.

Anyway, there is no truth whatsoever in the rumours that Plaid Cymru supporters have been spotted dancing in the fields around Llanrwst early this morning!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Polls and poles

Great article in the New Statesman on John Marek's bid to keep his Wrexham seat. John seems to have been very relaxed about the camapign to date and perhaps this explains why.

Talking of polls instead of poles, there has been an interesting reaction by various commentators to the 'polls' published this week.

Having knocked on thousands of doors during the last few weeks, we have one of the most accurate surveys of what is going on in this constituency, which I would love to share with you but am under pain of death if I did. All I can say is that it does not reflect the national picture.

Indeed, in a close three way tie and in a diverse constituency, that would expected, especially as the polls conducted would only have asked around 25 people in Aberconwy for those views. Now if those 25 people had been in Penrhyn bay, we would have 60% of the vote, if they has been in Llandudno Junction, Labour would have 60% of the vote and if they had been in Llanrwst, Plaid Cymru would have 60% of the vote. I think you get the picture!

The only poll that matters is on May 3rd and I am really looking forward to it (and some sleep after!)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

New Labour Spin - what they say

I'm not a GMTV fan - I can never seem to win any of their competitions - but they had Ben Bradshaw the Minister for the environment on the box talking about recycling this morning, which is a big issue on the doorstep in Aberconwy, especially the abolition of weekly refuse collections.

When asked why his government are encouraging local authorities to undertake fortnightly collections of rubbish

"I am really glad the debate is taking place but let's get the terminology right first. It's not about fortnightly collections, it's about alternate weekly collections."

and New Labour hasn't worked out yet why people are leaving them in droves!

Labour's world of lunacy in the NHS #1

NHS Problem - 74,000 former patients in Wales have lost access to NHS dentistry since the recent dentistry reforms were implemented by Labour.

Labour solution - Newly-qualified dentists unable to find Wales job

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The London Press finally finds Wales!

Leading comment by The Times on the Assembly elections, which is a fascinating insight on how the media on the other side of the border view us and our political parties!

Plaid's Economic Red Herring

Has my final business hustings last night, this time organised by the professions group of organisations such as the ACCA, ICAEW and CIM.

Also probably the last time I will see Dafydd Wigley before the Aberconwy results on May 4th, which will have a bearing on both our lives I am sure.

Interesting that no-one decided to discuss the corporation tax issue, which has been at the centre of Plaid's business policies. Indeed, there has been almost no scrutiny of this by political commentators and yet it forms the core of the opposition party's economic policies.

This entire policy is a red herring which is excellent in principle and completely unworkable, for now, in practice.

This is not to say I don't agree with the concept of specific tax cuts in Wales - I am a Conservative after all. Indeed, I raised this issue over two years ago and have already blogged on this subject in February. As I said in a speech to the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce last year

"I believe the time has now come to have an honest debate to thoroughly re-examine the whole issue of the additional powers that can create competitive advantage for Welsh businesses, as opposed to grants that do little to support long term investment. Many would argue that Wales is not mature enough at this stage in the devolution process to consider a radical move in terms of tax-varying powers and their ability to transform our economy. This is no excuse for not having a wider and deeper debate on the effect of further powers on the competitiveness of the Welsh economy".

However, what is disingenuous about this specific policy from Plaid is that it is largely acknowledged that such a policy will be completely unachievable under the next term of the Assembly Government, thanks to the half-baked devolutional arrangements developed by Labour.

The European Commission has made it absolutely clear that only those regions with existing tax varying powers could cut corporation tax. This means that if Wales wants such powers, then we will have to have a full parliament like Scotland after 2011. Indeed, an interesting article from Northern Ireland has made the same case and has shown that within a short period of time, this policy would have a positive fiscal benefit on the region and certainly help to address some of the wider economic disparities within the UK.

Therefore, Plaid's main economic policy is completely unworkable under current devolution arrangements and would not be implemented within the third term of an Assembly.

This is not to say that all parties should not sit down during the next four years and work towards a specific tax reducing policy for the fourth Assembly in 2011 and, more importantly, get the business sector on board for such a policy. I would certainly strongly support such a move if elected as, I am sure, would Dafydd Wigley.

Unholy Alliance?

This story looks set to run and run.

See Vaughan Roderick's excellent blog for the best details.

However, members of both Plaid Cymru and Labour should not be too shocked as there have been whispers of an electroal arrangement between the two parties for the last few months.

Indeed, Dafydd Wigley himself "floated the idea of a Plaid-Labour coalition ruling Wales after next year's National Assembly election" in the Western Mail last year.

As a Conservative, I wish I had thought of this strategy but clearly Labour managed to do it for us!

Could this be the defining moment of the campaign - let's wait and see....

Monday, April 23, 2007

A marriage of convenience?

Following Ieuan Wyn Jones' comments yesterday that his party are happy to work with Labour, it seems that now Labour are so desperate to cling to power that they are considering working with Plaid Cymru, possibly in coalition.

It doesn't matter how you dress this up - coalition, political arrangement - I cannot understand for the life of me how Plaid Cymru can even consider doing any deals with this discredited labour Government, regardless of their potential new members' distaste for the Conservatives.

This is not like the budget deal last December -that was about adjustments to a programme already agreed by the current Government. This about having a historic non-Labour Government in Wales for the first time and having the opportunity to make a real difference.

Does Plaid really want to see Rhodri at the helm again; does Plaid really want to support Andrew Davies - a man who won't even have any Welsh on his election addresses; does Plaid want to support Brian Gibbons, the architect of hospital cuts across Wales?

They say that a week is a long time in politics - given the complete distaste that the electorate on the doorstep have for Tony Blair and his cronies, this could be the defining moment in this particular campaign.

The unacceptable face of blogging

For the first time ever, I have had to delete a comment from an anonymous blogger who decided it would be clever to have a go at my wife and kids. As you are obviously a parent at my children's local school, let's just hope you have the guts to come and repeat these comments to me when you next see me take my kids to school.

I am happy to take any crap from anyone - that is why I have a political blog. Also, after four years of writing a column for the Western mail and the Daily Post, I accept that my comments are there to be shot down.

I have enjoyed the blog banter I have had with people from different political backgrounds over the last few days but it is clearly unacceptable for individuals to think they can comment on my family just because I am standing for public office.

I will therefore be restricting this blog from now on to those genuine bloggers who are happy to sign in to discuss anything posted rather than the cowardly little shits who hide behind anonymous mails.

I wonder what other genuine bloggers think of this?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Plaid's reality check on affordable housing

I am surprised that no-one has been examining Plaid's "£5000 for first time buyers policy" in more depth as it seems their only policy towards the challenge of affordable homes.

Yes, I have discussed the lack of any reality check of this policy when it comes to the actual housing situation in Wales but what about the actual practice that would be pursued by an incoming Plaid Government.

I am proud to be a Llo Llyn - the son of a daughter of Pwllheli and a son of Rhoshirwaun. I have been lucky in that I have been able to buy a house early in my career. However, many in Pwllheli and the Llyn Peninsula have not, and in an area where living on the average wage won't get you mortgage on a beach shed in Abersoch, the promise of £5000 towards a deposit is hardly going to help, especially when it is being eroded by house inflation.

We need affordable housing for young people, and one solution is to allow them to self-build on land that is owned by the local council and which can therefore control the freehold and ownership of the property over the long term.

Rather than giving planning permission for large numbers of houses to be built on copycat developments - as local councils have done across Wales - we need to have a sensible discussion on how we can revitalise our towns and villages through a careful assessment of their future needs.

Without these young people living in the area, local schools are under threat, community life declines and the welsh language will slowly disappear.

Would you prefer to have a 100 house development on one site or 10 houses in 10 villages across the county which are geared towards the needs of local people?

How often do we see any large scale developments actually turned down by planning authorities?

Why do local authorities allow construction firms to buy up every inch of land for their own purposes without any due consideration of local housing needs?

As the Welsh Conservatives have stated in the manifesto, we need actually need a reality check over planning regulations and some innovative thinking. There are many questions to be answered here and I would wish to see the Assembly establish a commission into this issue immediately after May 3rd to examine how law making powers can help us address what is one of the major social and economic issues facing our nation over the next decade.

The greatest shame to many people in areas such as the Llyn Peninsula is what a Plaid Cymru led political administration has done when faced with such a situation. In my home county of Gwynedd, the Plaid Cymru Council has stuck to outmoded planning regulations when they could and should have taken the lead over this type of policy for the whole of Wales.

Never mind the fuss over the marina in Pwllheli (which contained no housing proposals), the real threat to the language is the fact that the council's current approach to planning in areas such as the Llyn Peninsula is strangling, at birth, any opportunity for young people to get on the housing ladder. Allowing executive housing in Caernarfon will hardly help this situation, especially when they allegedly sold a major development site for only £1 (and I frankly don't blame the developers for getting the best deal for themselves).

That is a disappointment to many local people, especially when the best that the Party of Wales could come up with is a cash sum that does almost nothing to address the real situation in y Fro Gymraeg and certainly will not help address the lack of affordable housing in the area.

To paraphrase Neil Kinnock (of all people), I’ll tell you what happens with impossible promises. You start with far-fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, outdated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end in the grotesque chaos of a Plaid Cymru council, yes a Plaid Cymru council, giving planning permission to build £750,000 penthouses whilst refusing young people across the Llyn Peninsula the right to build their own houses on land owned by their family and in the villages they were brought up.

Say no more.

Back from Iraq

Just received some great news.

My first cousin Paul is coming back from Iraq, hopefully for the final time.

He is enormously relieved and I'm looking forward to a few beers with him later in May.

It takes events like this to puts politics into real perspective.

Deg diwrnod i fynd....

Deg diwrnod i fynd ac mae'n rhaid imi ddweud fy mhod wedi blino'n gorfforol ond wedi mwynhau pob munud (i fyny i rwan!).

Mae yna lot o waith yr wythnos yma wrth gwrs, ac ar ben y canfasio i gyd, y mae un o 'top stars' y Ceidwadwyr wedi penderfynu dod draw yn ganol yr wythnos i drafod polisiau gyda pobol busnes yr ardal.

Mae hyn i gyd yn 'top secret' ar y funud - dwi ddim yn gwybod pa bryd ac ym mhle tan yfory - ond mi fydd yn gyfle i cael trafodaeth diddorol am ei weledigaeth i'r wlad ar ol yr etholaeth gyffredinol nesaf.

Mi roedd eistedd o flaen gynulleidfa Pawb a'i Farn nos Iau am y tro cyntaf braidd yn scary, ond roedd Dewi Llwyd yn ffantastic gyda pawb. Dwi wedi gweld yr usual 'hate mail' gan rhai o bloggers Plaid am fy mherfformiad. So what, mae pobol Pwllheli wedi bod yn llongyfarch mam ar y stryd fawr ac os ydi hi yn hapus, pwy sydd yn poeni!?!

Wrth gwrs, roedd Wigley wedi arfer hefo'r fformat, ond mi gefais sioc ar be ddywedodd Jonathan Austin am y Blaid Lafur i.e. wedi gwneud penderfyniad i beidio mynd i glymblaid hefo unrhyw Blaid. Mae'n siwr roedd Rhodri Morgan (a Mike German) wedi cael cathod am hyn. Wyrach mai 'nerves' oedd wedi hitio Jonathan ar y noson oherwydd y bore wedyn, mi roedd y blaid Lafur yn gorfod rhoi neges allan fod camgymeriad oedd hyn i gyd!

Mae'n rhaid fod yn ofalus iawn ar rhaglen wleidydddol fyw!

Y piti mwyaf oedd peidio cael y cyfle i siarad am ddyfodol yr Iaith Gymraeg, yn arbennig pwysigrwydd tai fforddiadwy mewn ardaloedd gwledig. Yn anffodus, dewiswyd cwestiwn am y maes awyr yn Sir Fon gan y gynulleidfa yn lle un ar yr iaith.

Fuase hyn wedi bod yn gyfle gwych i son am bolisiau Cyngor Gwynedd. Pwy fuasa wedi credu fuasa cynghorwyr Plaid Cymru yn hollol barod i rhoi caniatad cynllunio i adeiladu penthouses yn Cei Fictoria (sydd yn gwerthu am £750,000) ond ddim mor barod i rhoi caniatad cynllunio i deuluoedd ifanc lleol ym Mhen Llyn i adeiladu tai ar dir o gwmpas y pentrefi lle cafwynt ei magu?

Fuaswn wrth fy modd wedi clywed barn rhai o gefnogwyr Plaid yn y gynulleidfa am hyn, yn arbennig y rhai oedd yn digon barod i farnu'r Ceidwadwyr!

Tipyn o frec o wleidyddiaeth y pnawn yma - dwi'n gorfod ysgrifennu erthygl i Microsoft ar gyfer llyfr y maent yn ei gyhoeddi ar ddyfodol economi'r byd. Mae gen i 'writers block' ar y funud felly off i gael paned o de a gobeithio fydd yna ddigon o ysbrydoiaeth gan PG Tips imi cael ei orffen cyn 6 heno!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

People power

Attended the Hospital Action Group rally at Llandudno yesterday.

Plaid Cymru tried their best to hijack the event again but a number commented to me afterwards that nearly all of their 'supporters' on the day were from outside the constituency.

It is also noticable how many people have just about had enough of their shenanigans over this non-political community campaign where they have been quick to claim credit for anything involved in it, forgetting the hard work put in by ordinary members of the public who started this camapign.

Anyway, here is an abridged version of speech I gave, which shows my position on the subject

The campaign against hospital cuts at Llandudno Hospital isn’t about politics - it is about common sense, it is about community and it is about doing the right thing.

Spending £83 million per year on non-medical staff isn’t common sense when accident and emergency services are cut at our local hospital; spending an extra £24 million on employing managers and administrators isn’t common sense when they are looking to close the coronary care unit at our local hospital; and having one penpusher for every three doctors and nurses isn’t common sense when many remember how one matron used to be able to run a hospital without all the red-tape we see today.

Politicians are quick to claim credit for anything, but the success of this campaign has been down to the people of Llandudno who got together to sign the petitions, walk on the marches and to form the Hospital Action Group, which has done an excellent job to date.

However, let us not forget one very special person. Dorothy Smith had been treated for breast cancer at Llandudno and when she heard about the threat to her local hospital, she decided to get out and do something about it. In just one month, and before any politicians got involved, Dot collected over 17,000 signatures to launch this campaign and to let the Assembly in Cardiff know that the people of Llandudno would not accept the cuts to services at their hospital without a fight and everyone should acknowledge her fantastic efforts.

Finally, I also want you to think about what Llandudno what would be like without a fully functioning general hospital and what you or your family would have done without having this vital service here on your doorstep and not thirty miles away in St Asaph or Bangor.

Enough is enough and I make this promise to use all my energy, enthusiasm and stamina to ensure that the Welsh Assembly will listen to our concerns, that we cut the bureaucracy that could be spent on keeping vital services here in Llandudno and that all of us get the fully functioning general hospital which this area deserves.

Labour mauled on health policies

Back to the World Socialist website, which has decided to maul the Labour Party in Wales over their NHS policies.

"Hospitals face closures, debts mount, waiting lists have grown, jobs are cut and skilled health professionals cannot find posts. It is small consolation to have a free prescription when the local hospital has closed or you have to wait for months for a routine operation".

Jonathan Morgan couldn't have said it better in the Welsh Conservative manifesto!

One point of interest in the article is the extra money that was to be made available to general practitioners (GPs) to increase their responsibilities and take on services transferred to them from the hospitals as part of a programme of community-based care.

It is particularly disturbing that the Assembly allegedly tried to blackmail doctors in cutting their services and I am surprised that the media has not picked up on this scandal

With comrades like these, who needs enemies....

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

On the hustings with business

Attended the FSB hustings in Llandudno yesterday - it was an interesting experience but a real shame that Labour didn't send one of their other leading candidates and let Donna Hutton - who admitted to knowing very little about the economy - be their panelist.

Yet again, I had Dafydd Wigley next to me at the event. Having already been with him on Radio Cymru, we are speaking together this morning on Radio Wales, on Pawb a'i Farn tonight, and at both the CBI and ACCA hustings next week.

I will know the Plaid Cymru policy better than ours by the end of the campaign I'm sure!

However, it is interesting that whilst their economic policy is very business friendly, it must sit very uncomfortably with the Valleys socialists who currently dominate the party.

Giving more power to the private sector - that sounds almost Tory in its enlightenment!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Strange bedfellows

It's not often you find William Rees Mogg and Cymuned on the same side but the article from this morning's Times suggest that clearly affordable housing has become an issue across the political spectrum.

The following comments from Rees Mogg will strike a chord with many young hard working professionals in Wales

"It is the “20-20s” that are ruled out; they are the graduates in their twenties who are earning something over £20,000 a year. The average pay of a teacher is, apparently, £26,400 a year. Many graduates, even in better paid professions, will earn less than that in their early jobs. A suburban semidetached house in Gerrards Cross, which may have cost about £1,250 when it was first sold in the 1930s, would now cost between £500,000 and £1 million".

And this doesn't include the thousands of young people who didn't go to college and stayed behind in their local areas only to find that they cannot afford to buy a home in the area in which they work and want to raise a family.

I responded to this issue on Glyn Davies' blog yesterday and it was interesting to see the comment from Sanddef where Cymuned had apparently praised the Conservative leadership in Wales for their stance on this issue.

After eight years of playing with this issue, it is time the Assembly got its act together to respond to what will be one of the major social and economic challenges in Wales over the next four years especially if, as the FT notes, house price inflation is still running at around 8 per cent annually.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Small is Beautiful

Excellent article by Simon Jenkins in today's Sunday Times.

If there was ever an argument for keeping hospitals local and small, this is it.

He also quotes liberally from E.F. Schumacher's "Small is Beautiful" (or economics as if people mattered), one of the books that made me go into entrepreneurship research.

If I am elected, I shall try and make this de rigeur reading for all civil servants within the Assembly.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ensuring the future of Llandudno Hospital

Took a break yesterday from canvassing to launched our North Wales election health campaign to save the NHS from Labour's health cuts.

We have made the National Health Service their top priority in the Assembly election campaign and I am personally committed not only to stopping Labour's plans for the downgrading of Llandudno Hospital but to examine how more services can be attracted to the region.

During the last few weeks, I have had the privilege of talking to many people on the doorsteps of Aberconwy and it is clear that they remain concerned over the future of Llandudno Hospital. Like me, they want to see a hospital that serves the needs of local residents and not the whims of politicians and civil servants”

The Hospital Action Group has done a wonderful job to date but I believe that after the election, it is time for them to move away from merely defending current hospital services and to develop an action plan that will call for more services to be based at Llandudno Hospital. Certainly, if the local NHS Trust is happy to increase its non-medical wage bill by over £7 million in three years, then it should certainly examine how some of this money that is currently wasted on bureaucracy could be channelled into attracting new world class services at Llandudno.”

I believe now is the time for putting the case forward to ensuring that Llandudno has a fully functioning local hospital with services available that reflect the needs of local people. Too often, we have had managers making decisions to please their masters in Cardiff Bay rather than the needs of local people. It is scandalous that the coronary care unit is currently down to three beds despite indications that there will be an increase for its use during the next few years. Similarly, how can a major resort like Llandudno – which has 12 per cent of all the holiday accommodation in Wales – not have hospital facilities such as accident and emergency services?

Conwy, with the highest proportion of people over 75 in Wales, also needs to have an upgrading of its geriatrics unit. We also need to ensure that we create a centre of excellence for breast care which amalgamates Breast test Wales and the Breast Surgical Unit to form a nucleus of expertise at Llandudno Hospital.

It is clear that what we need to put together a detailed and fully costed plan for a hospital fit for the 21st century needs of the people of Aberconwy. I hope that the Hospital Action group, along with other bodies such as the League of Friends and the Conwy CHC, will join the Conservatives in ensuring a proper dialogue with local people and clinicians about the future of local NHS services and ensure that Llandudno Hospital continues to be a beacon of hope for people across the area.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Youth Vote

Accepted an invitation, with some trepidation, to appear on the S4C youth programme Hacio, which was recorded last night at Tafarn y Rhos. All four parties sent representatives and I was very glad that Suzy Davies came up all the way from Brecon to support me - that's devotion to the political cause for you.

Not surprisingly, I was called a "middle aged man in a suit" by one of my younger opponents but I have heard worse during the last few weeks, I can assure you!

I am sure one of the other panellists -Martin Eaglestone - will blog on this too!

The programme consisted of a series of questions from a panel of four young people on issues such as education, agriculture, health and wellbeing and transport.

It was a very lively affair and one of the members of Ffermwyr Ifanc on the panel was outstanding - she should seriously consider a career in politics!
She clearly demonstrated the importance of this excellent organisation to developing young people in rural Wales.

I won't tell you the result but the on heartening thing is that one of the four panellists came up to me afterwards and said that s/he would vote Conservative.

So, we now have 25% of the youth vote!

After this TV moment, back to the hard work of canvassing today!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Wake up and smell the coffee

Yet again, the First Minister rubbishes the possibility of any coalition after the election and says that Labour's manifesto is the only one that can be implemented.

Ah yes, promising NHS waiting times to come down, we have heard that one before.

Bleak times under the tories...very original...ask the pensioners I have been talking to about bleak times thanks to Gordon Brown's pensions scandal.

Rhodri just doesn't get it - nor do any of his advisors.

The majority of the people of Wales don't want Labour and would be more than happy to have a non-Labour alternative on May 4th. The question is whether the parties can agree on a coalition deal after then and there is no reason why this cannot be the case if some of the politicians against this actually woke up and smelt the coffee.

Perhaps Rhodri, before slagging off coalitions, should look over the Irish Sea to his favourite economy.

Ireland has developed and matured politically and economically through a series of coalition governments over the last two decades. It is about time Wales grew up too and looked to a non-Labour future where a four year policy programme agreed by coalition partners could make a real difference to this nation.

Socialists lambast the First Minister

Fascinating article from the World Socialist Website - not usual reading in the Jones-Evans household - which looks at labour;s record on Iraq and job creation.

Two memorable quotes from the article.

One from Rhodri who states that "those concerned about the war in Iraq, he continued, were “probably Guardian-reading, chattering-class Labour supporters” whose impact would only be “slight.” The response from the site is that "these ignorant and self-contradictory comments are yet another indication of the gulf that separates masses of ordinary people from the Blair Labour government and its counterpart in Welsh Assembly".

The second is regarding job creation claims by Rhodri and his team, to which the surevy responds "The jobs Labour claims to have created are predominantly low-paid, part-time or casual work that cannot provide a decent living standard or any real future for young workers and families".

More in line with Alun Cairns than Leon Trotsky!

A small break from the campaign

Having hardly seen the kids and my better half for the last two weeks (and with little chance of seeing them until May 3rd apart from a snatched breakfast together), it was great to spend some time with them yesterday with some friends down in Porthdinllaen.

The weather was gorgeous, the Magners was cold, and the company was brilliant!

Who needs to go abroad when Wales is on top form like this.

The facts about Aberconwy


The Assembly Members' Research Service has just published a series of fact sheets on all the constituencies being fought after boundary changes on May 3rd.

In Aberconwy, the main findings are:

- there are around 44,100 electors registered to vote in an Assembly election.
- a higher share of the population is of retirement age than for the Welsh average
- 34.1% of people can speak Welsh, compared to 20.5% across Wales
- a higher proportion of working age people in Aberconwy are in employment
- there is a higher proportion of owner occupied households than across Wales

Find out more about Aberconwy by clicking here.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Poll results

Apologies for not blogging for while - I have a campaign to run!

We have a great team here in Aberconwy and if we don't win on May 3rd, it won't be through lack of professionalism and effort.

However, the biggest issue in Wales this week was the ITV poll.

This seems to have shocked a number of people, especially Plaid Cymru, over the growing vote for the Welsh Conservatives.

It does tend to reflect the doorstep conversations we have been having but there is still a lot of work to do between now and May 3rd, I can assure you.

Also, the Sunday Times NOP Poll shows that, for the first time in many years, the Welsh electorate is reflecting national trends when it comes to a general election (albeit with a very small sample for Wales).

Still the trend is in the right direction....

The morning of May 4th is going to be very interesting indeed!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Brown's culpability in pensions scandal?

Some great canvassing this week with a really strong team out in Aberconwy.

The Labour vote seems to be collapsing and it is clear that national issues are swinging the vote towards the Conservatives as much as local issues. For example, the issue about pensions is very strong and it is clear that people are disgusted at the way that Gordon Brown has mishandled this issue.

Indeed, the Times this morning highlighted a recent Freedom of Information release which indicate that he was warned about the effect of his policies but chose to ignore this advice. The documents show that:

– The lower paid would be worse off under the new rules
– Pensioners due to retire would lose out immediately
– Businesses would struggle to adjust to the change
– It would cost pension providers £4 billion a year
– Pension benefits would be cut
– Shares could drop by between 6 per cent and 20 per cent
– The value of existing pension funds could fall immediately by £50 billion
– Local authority schemes would need topping up, leading to higher public spending
– The Department of Trade and Industry would be “gravely concerned” about having to bail out pension schemes driven into insolvency

Given that this venerable organ has been very supportive of Brown during the last few years is probably the most surprising thing about this revelation. certainly, the many retired people in living Aberconwy will be shocked at this revelation which will be yet another nail in the coffin of this party at Cardiff Bay and Westminster

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Amazing timing...

Yet further good news for jobs in the Welsh economy today, although firms are still shedding jobs in the manufacturing sector in those areas that can least afford it.

However, the timing seems a little bit too perfect and I cannot help but feel nothing but cynicism at the way these job announcements are all coming the week before the election campaign starts. It will certainly further erode people's confidence in the way politicians manipulate the news for their own ends.

That may sound naive from an apprentice politician but it is exactly the type of comment I am finding from people on the doorsteps of Aberconwy.

Yet again we see a clear example of the growing politicisation of the civil service in Wales. I doubt if we will ever find out whether officials have been told by the Minister to ensure these announcements are to be made this week but the coincidence is amazing.

Also, it is interesting how the Minister’s city of Swansea is the beneficiary, given that there are many poorer areas such as the Gwent Valleys that could have benefited from such an investment (or is that being too cynical even for me?)

Perhaps Labour should learn from the Conservative Party on this one. The LG announcement in 1996 which promised 6,000 jobs did not help our election chances at all in the following year, mainly because the tide has turned against our party.

The same is now true of Labour - their time is past - and they can get the officials to manipulate job announcements as much as they like. It will not help them one bit in May of this year.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Why Labour should be thrown out

Have just been e-mailed this link to Youtube from a mate.

If you ever doubted why Labour should lose, and lose heavily at the next election, just watch this.

You may not agree with the way it is being said, but few would disagree with the sentiment.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Plaid spin will disappoint pensioners

I noticed with interest an article in the Daily Post on March 24th headed “Plaid’s pledge to pensioners: low council tax” in which it was reported that this new Nationalist policy “would mean that the average pensioner household was between £50 and £100 better off per year”. As ever in the world of political spin, the truth of the matter is somewhat different.

Plaid’s policy actually states that pensioners would see their council tax pegged to inflation with the difference between the annual rise in the tax - 4.3% on average this year - and inflation being paid back by the Assembly Government. Given that the current inflation measure is 2.8%, this would mean a saving of only £15 a year on the average £1,000 council tax bill. This is very different to what Plaid Cymru claimed.

The pensioners of North Wales deserve the truth in this matter. After the smoke and mirrors of this year’s Budget, they will not take kindly to having another political party try and pull the wool over their eyes, especially with something as important as council tax.

In contrast, the Welsh Conservatives made their position absolutely clear earlier this month, with a manifesto pledge to give a council tax rebate of £100 to every pensioner household in Wales.

Rather than devising a complicated formula that delivers very little in real benefit, our pledge will make a real difference to their household budgets and ease the burden of Labour's stealth tax on some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

PWYSIGRWYDD Y SECTOR GWIRFODDOL

Cyfarfod diddorol iawn ddoe yn Crest Co-operative yn Llandudno gyda Oliver Heald, sef aelod o tim newydd David Cameron.

Mae wedi bod yn gret gweld arweinyddion yr wrthblaid yn dod i fyny o Lundain i cael trafod sut mae polisiau Prydeinig yn effeithio ar materion lleol a sut fydd aelodau newydd y Cynulliad yn gallu cydweithio i wella's sefyllfa.

Mae David Cameron wedi son yn barod sut y mae am gryfhau rol bwysig y sector gwirfoddol yn lleol, ac mi oedd y bois yn Crest yn dangos yn glir sut y mae cwmni fel yma yn gallu rhoi hyfforddiant perthnasol i bobl ifanc o gefndir difreintiedig drwy ganolbwyntio ar yr amgylchedd fel ei busnes priodol.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Put your money where your mouth is

Put your money where your mouth is and support local post offices"

That is the message from Aberconwy Conservatives. Last week, we demonstrated our commitment to post offices across the region by directly buying stamps for our Assembly election campaign from their local network.

We decided that instead of using the cheaper mass delivery Mailsort option organised outside the region by the Royal Mail and used by other political parties, a decision was made to buy all stamps locally for the campaign. Last week, I visited post offices across the constituency - from Dolwyddelan to Deganwy - buying over 10,000 stamps in the process. I am pictured above with Karen Crocker, sub postmistress at Morfa Post Office in Conwy.

We all have a vital role to play in ensuring that our local post offices remain open. Clearly, it would have been far cheaper and easier to go use the central delivery service provided by the Royal Mail. Instead of just moaning about the issue, we decided to actually do something about supporting our local post offices. Whilst only a small gesture, it shows that we can all do a little bit more in supporting our local post office.

One postmaster gave us an example of a local business which had been approached by a various delivery services and, although the option was slightly cheaper, he felt it was part of his civic duty to buy his stamps from his local post office and support the local community. This is an example that we all should follow where possible.

Whilst it is important that local people continue to back their local post offices, there is more that can be done by the Welsh Assembly Government in ensuring that more government services – the lifeblood of any post office network – are delivered through the network.

The Welsh Conservatives have already suggested that the Assembly Government should be taking proactive and imaginative steps to ensure that post offices in Wales remain at the heart of our communities.

Speaking to postmasters across the constituency, it is clear that the removal of different services by the UK Government has plunged many into crisis. Many people want to have the option of paying their bills through their local post office and yet this choice is being taken away from them, with private and public sector organisations forcing them down the direct debit route. For an increasing number of people, particularly the elderly and most vulnerable in our society, this is completely inappropriate and only adds to the problems of isolation in our communities.

Forcing all pensioners to open bank accounts to receive their pensions was successfully resisted by the Conservatives in Parliament - the Post Office Card Account is now available to those who don't want to use a bank account. This has helped keep sub post offices open at a time when other services are being hived off and made inaccessible to residents who don't drive - many of whom are elderly.

However, more needs to be done and the Welsh Conservatives believe that the Assembly should make it an immediate priority to set up a task force to examine how more local council and Assembly services can be managed and run through the local post office network in Wales, and to examine how more individuals and businesses can be encouraged to pay for their services via this system.

Monday, March 19, 2007

99 not out

Interesting article in the Daily Telegraph today, which suggests that families in Britain are about to be hit with their 100th tax increase from Gordon Brown....here are the 99 to date.

1997

1. Mortgage interest relief cut 2. Pensions tax (payable tax credits abolished) 3. Health insurance taxed (income tax relief abolished) 4. Health insurance taxed again (IPT) 5. Fuel tax escalator up 6. Vehicle Excise Duty up 7. Tobacco duty escalator up 8. Stamp duty up for properties over £250,000 9. Limit carry back of trading losses to one year 10. Dividends on trading assets 11. Taxation of finance leasing 12. New Windfall Tax on utilities 13. Futures and options 14. VAT: cash accounting scheme

1998
15. Married couple's allowance cut 16. Tax on travel insurance up 17. Tax on casinos and gaming machines up 18. Fuel tax escalator brought forward 19. Tax on company cars up 20. Tax relief for foreign earnings abolished 21. Tax concession for certain professions abolished 22. Capital Gains Tax imposed on certain non-residents 23. Reinvestment relief restricted 24. Corporation Tax payments brought forward and ACT abolished 25. Higher stamp duty rates up 26. Some hydrocarbon duties up 27. Additional diesel duties 28. Landfill Tax up 29. Exceptional increase in tobacco and alcohol duties 30. Amendments to offshore trusts 31. VAT: fuel scale charges

1999
32. NIC earnings limit raised 33. NICs for self-employed up 34. Married Couple's Allowance abolished 35. Mortgage tax relief abolished 36. IR35: Taxation of personal services companies 37. Company car business mileage allowances restricted 38. Tobacco duty escalator brought forward 39. Insurance Premium Tax up 40. Vocational Training Relief abolished 41. Employer NICs extended to all benefits in kind 42. VAT on some banking services up 43. Premiums paid to tenants by landlords taxed 44. Duty on minor oils up 45. Vehicle Excise Duties for lorries up 46. Landfill tax escalator introduced 47. Higher rates of stamp duty up again 48. Capital gains on sale of companies 49. Controlled Foreign Companies: taxation of dividends

2000
50. Tobacco duties up 51. Higher rates of stamp duty up again52. Extra taxation of life assurance companies 53. Rules on Controlled Foreign Companies extended 54. Aggregates levy increased 55. Changes to double taxation relief 56. Rent factoring 57. Capital gains tax: use of trusts and offshore companies 58. VAT: capital asset disposals

2001
59. Controlled foreign companies regime

2002
60. Personal allowances frozen 61. National Insurance threshold frozen 62. NICs for employers up 63. NICs for employees up 64. NICs for self-employed up 65. North Sea taxation up 66. Tax on some alcoholic drinks up 67. New stamp duty regime 68. New rules on loan relationships 69. Taxation of foreign company UK branches

2003
70. VAT on electronically supplied services 71. IR35 applied to domestic workers 72. Betting duty change 73. Tax on red diesel and fuel oil up 74. Controlled Foreign Companies measures on Ireland 75. Vehicle excise duty up 76. VAT: on continuous supplies 77. VAT: on privately operated tolls 78. Treatment of options for the purposes of tax on chargeable gains 79. Landfill tax increased

2004
80. Minimum 19% tax rate on distributed profits 81. Transfer pricing and thin capitalisation 82. Increase in rate of tax on trusts 83. Increase in tax on red diesel fuel 84. Increase in tax on other road fuels (including LPG) 85. VAT: transfers of going concern 86. Insurance premium tax: Changes to GAP insurance 87. Taxation of life companies 88. Foreign earnings deduction for seafarers 89. Construction industry scheme
2005

90. Stamp duty land tax: ending commercial disadvantaged areas relief 91. Increase in North Sea corporation tax 92. Further increase in tax on red diesel 93. Increase in taxation of leasing 94. Company car tax up

2006
95. Further changes to oil valuation for tax purposes 96. Stamp duty land tax: ending relief for initial transfers into unit trusts 97. Removal of income tax exemption for loaned computers 98. North Sea Oil tax increased 99. Air Passenger Duty doubled

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Aberconwy being ignored?

As a candidate, I would obviously say this is one of the most interesting electoral battles in the Assembly elections, although the media does not seem to have taken any notice of the new seat.

For example, unless my geography is completely wrong, the BBC's new election panel does not have one representative from within this constituency (although it has three from Anglesey!)

However, in searching for any information about the media's interest in Aberconwy, I came across this interesting comment on Plaid Cymru's dilemma within the constituency.

Not my problem as we will win the seat without even considering whether this will allow Dafydd Wigley in or not.

BUREAUCRACY GOES MAD IN THE NHS

After detailed research, I can today revealed that there have been massive increases in the cost of administration and bureaucracy within the NHS in North Wales at a time when local hospitals are being downgraded or shut. I recently made a Freedom of Information request to the three NHS Trusts in North Wales. The documentation received showed that in the period 2003-2006:

- the overall cost of managerial, administrative, facilities and maintenance staff increased by £24 million, representing an increase of 41 per cent in non–medical staff costs over three years
- the cost of administrative staff alone has increased by over £12 million pounds
230 administrators and clerical staff have been employed as compared to 156 new doctors and 268 new nurses
- the cost of the executive board and senior management of all three trusts has risen by £5.2 million pounds, an increase of 53 per cent

This massive growth in non-medical staff costs, especially amongst managerial and administrative staff, is completely unacceptable in the current climate of hospital closures.

It cannot be right that when frontline services are under enormous financial pressure and hospitals are being shut or downgraded that we discover that over £24 million has been spent on increased administration and support costs. The taxpayers of North Wales want to see their money spent on doctors and nurses, not on more penpushers to fill in forms for government bureaucrats.

The Welsh Conservatives is the only party that has consistently asked for the millions spent on bureaucracy within the NHS in North Wales to be redirected to frontline services. Whilst I am fully supportive of having professional management systems within the NHS, this should not be at the expense of vital medical services within local hospitals. Much of the blame must be laid squarely at the door of the Assembly Government, which has made our health system one of the most bureaucratic in Europe.

The consultation process over the future of health services in North Wales was inherently flawed because it did not examine the growing cost of non-medical staff and services. The Welsh Conservatives have made it absolutely clear that we will halt Labour's plans for any downgrading of services at Llandudno Hospital and the closure of other local hospitals in North Wales.

We will also establish a proper dialogue on the future shape of medical services involving clinicians and local people, a dialogue which will have at its core whether money should be used for bureaucracy or frontline services within North Wales

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Council tax hypocrisy

Many council taxpayers across North Wales will be shocked at the hypocrisy demonstrated by the group of Labour AMs to protest at the increase in the police precept, as reported in the Daily Post on Saturday.

They have the gall to complain at the average rise of £2.93 a year when Labour has presided over a doubling of council tax bills since coming to power, a situation which is the direct result of Assembly decisions to pass more burdens to local authorities without any accompanying funding.

Their double standards regarding the police precept is compounded by the deafening silence by the same Assembly Members regarding the abolition of the rural rate relief scheme for small businesses. Thanks directly to Labour Government policy, thousands of small rural firms across North Wales are now facing the prospect of finding hundreds of pounds to pay their rates bills in a few weeks time.

On May 3rd, the voters of North Wales will not forget that it is the Labour Party, at both Westminster and Cardiff Bay, that have taxed individuals and businesses to the hilt during the last eight years and, despite additional billions being spent in Wales, have left us in a situation where local hospitals, schools and post offices are still being closed down across the region.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Llandudno - the second happiest place in the UK


Great story on the BBC website today on Llandudno being the second happiest town in the UK.

This follows Bill Bryson's comment on Llandudno being his "favourite seaside resort".

I am sure it will finally become the happiest place in the UK on May 4th when it elects a Conservative for the seat of Aberconwy :)


CBI Manifesto ignores the train solution


Interesting to see the CBI manifesto call for the Assembly to monitor the effect of any new Welsh legislation, given that I actually highlighted this the previous day in my Western Mail column.

Some of the CBi's issues will not please the Assembly Government, especially their concern over public sector growth in Wales, which both Andrew Davies and Rhodri Morgan remain in denial about.

I also note with interest their transport manifesto, which again focuses on roads. Certainly we need a better mix of transport schemes in Wales, and I am surprised that no one has picked up on Professor Stuart Cole's call for an upgrading of the North-South rail line, which could cut the journey between Bangor and Cardiff to just 3 hrs 15 mins.

The cost - £120 Million - sounds a lot, but not when you put this in the context of the £6 billion which the Assembly Government will spend on economic development and transport during the next four years (and that is excluding the new European Convergence Funds). It would certainly cut the journey from Wrexham to Newport by over an hour, ensuring that the link between North and South wales could be achieved in around 80-90 minutes, and closing the divide between the two parts of our nation

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Plaid Cymru leaflet

Amazing leaflet from Plaid Cymru in Aberconwy which paints the seat as a straight fight between Gareth Jones and Denise Idris Jones, as it was in 2003.

Um, perhaps someone has forgotten to tell them that the boundaries of the seat has changed and that even anti-Tory commentators are agreeing that the Conservatives have an excellent chance of capturing this seat.

Indeed, Plaid Cymru fail to mention the Conservatives at all within their leaflet, but of course, as certain individuals within Plaid Cymru's team on the doorstep have been telling our activists, "we are Conservatives really but with a Welsh tinge"!

Interesting then that, in 2005, they were happy to call themselves the only "genuine socialist party in Wales" which is probably why they would, as their former leader Dafydd Wigley has hinted, be happy to go into coalition with Labour and prop up Rhodri Morgan's discredited Government for another four years.

So contrary to what Gareth Jones' leaflet says, it is clear that Plaid Cymru,as they claim, would not 'unseat Labour's incompetent government in Cardiff' but would support it for another four years.

It will be interesting to note what voters in Aberconwy will have to say on the matter as Plaid Cymru cannot have it both ways!

Conservative conference

Just come back from Cardiff, where we had the Welsh Conservative conference this weekend.

What a totally fantastic and upbeat couple of days, where we set out our stall for the next Assembly elections.

David Cameron spoke eloquently and his presence during the run up to May 3rd will have a real effect in areas such as Aberconwy, where many people tend to read national newspapers such as the Daily Mail, Express, Mirror and Sun, especially as polls keep showing the difference between him and Gordon Brown.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Comedian yn y Cynulliad?

Gyda Dydd Gwyl Dewi yfory, mae'n hynod o ddiddorol cael gweld y ffordd mae gwledydd eraill yn edrych ar beth sydd yn mynd ymlaen yng Nghymru, yn arbennig yn wleidyddol.

Felly, fydd yn siom mawr i bawb o'n gwlad fach fod y Prif Weinidog, Rhodri Morgan, wedi cael ei farnu yn hallt iawn yn yr Iwerddon am ei joc gwael, yn gynhadledd y Blaid Lafur yn Llandudno, am grefydd Ian Paisley o'r DUP.

Dywedodd Rhodri Morgan yn y Western Mail fod yn oedd yn rhy hwyr i newid ei gymeriad - piti mawr, oherwydd dim dyma'r ffordd i Brif Weinidog Cymru ymddwyn, yn arbennig gyda llai na bythefnos nes etholaeth Gogledd Iwerddon.

Sut fuasa'r Blaid Lafur wedi ymateb i joc tebyg gan Nick Bourne neu David Cameron?

Os ydi Rhodri ddim am newid, wyrach mae'n amser i'r etholwyr newid ei Prif Weinidog

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Apathy could be the winner on May 3rd

It is interesting that the First Minister, in Llandudno last week, expressed his desire to fight the election on Welsh issues only.

Given this, perhaps he can explain to the citizens of Aberconwy why the Assembly Government has supported a highly flawed NHS consultation process that has led to the downgrading of their local hospital. Perhaps he should have dropped into one of the hundreds of small businesses and shops in the region who will be paying a massive 50% more in rates this April.

These are just two Welsh issues that the Welsh Conservatives have specific policies to address but it would seem that the message is - don't read the policies, just hate the Tories.

As someone new to politics, I had hoped, probably naively, that we would be able to discuss specific policies in a mature and adult fashion. Indeed, both of the hustings I have attended - with the farmers from the FUW and the nurses from the RCN - showed that these two groups certainly wanted to discuss specific issues of importance to their members, although my Labour opponent wanted to discuss whether John Redwood could sing the national anthem or not!

Rhodri Morgan and his team should take note of the message that I am getting on the streets of Llanrwst and Llandudno, namely that many people are simply disillusioned with a Labour Government both in Cardiff Bay and Westminster that simply just does not want to listen.

Rather than making the effort to engage with voters, the simple fallback position is to attack the Conservatives for, well, just being the Conservatives. It may play well with Labour activists but for the rest of the country, it just adds to the general malaise and disillusionment regarding the quality of debate in Welsh politics about issues that affect the everyday lives of voters everywhere.

I had hoped that this third Welsh Assembly election campaign could show that Wales has matured politically and that the politicians we have would stop treating the electorate like children, listen to their concerns and fight the election on which party has the best policies to deal with the challenges of a modern Wales.

Again, I am probably being naive - blame the fact that I have been in politics for just over fourteen months - but if the outdated approach we have seen to date continues, then the biggest victim in Wales will be democracy as many voters are simply turned off by the name-calling and end up simply not bothering on May 3rd.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

A busy week!

Have had a very busy few days with regard to canvassing and pre-election appearances. On Wednesday, we had the Aberconwy Conservative AGM where the election team for May was confirmed and we had a very high turnout (we can only hope for a similar turnout for the actual election!).

I then zoomed down to the Eagles Hotel in Llanrwst for a meeting organised by the FUW where all four candidates in the Aberconwy election were panellists. It was a lively affair, especially where Tir Mynydd was in question, and it gave a very interesting insight into the tactics of at least one of my opponents for the forthcoming election. I am sure to be regular visitor to the Eagles over the next few weeks!

Thursday morning was spent preparing election material and was followed by lunch with the Aberconwy Conservative Ladies. Any candidate will tell you that these events form the backbone of any campaign and I was very pleased to receive a cheque for £500.00 for our election fighting fund. Came back to see that our 'Fair Play for Small Business' was featured on the 'Waterfront' political programme on HTV.

Friday was spent canvassing in the rain around Llandudno, where the reaction was very positive and then, yet again, we had a meeting of the four candidates, this time in the Imperial Hotel, as organised by the Royal College of Nursing. It seems clear that Labour wish to focus on the past and not on any policy discussion, which is a great shame as I think the public has been turned off politics by such pointless arguments. Anyway, it was good to discuss some key issues such as peripatetic care and safety issues at hospitals, although we did not discuss the downgrading of Llandudno Hospital nor the wider policies in the NHS.

However, the best quote on the night was not from any of the panellists, but from a newspaper article I had read last week, namely:

“Funding for the health service has more than doubled since Labour came to power, so how is it that in 2007 after that ten-year investment, hospitals are having to take out lightbulbs and ask people to work for nothing in order to save money? The only explanation is that so much of the funding has been misdirected and wasted through poor policies and a lack of good management.”

I wish that it had been David Cameron, Jonathan Morgan or even myself who had come up with a quote that hit the nail on the head regarding the state of the NHS, but it instead it was Dr Peter Carter, the new general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Downgrading of Llandudno hospital to be stopped

I am glad to say that Welsh Conservatives have pledged to halt Labour's plans for hospital reconfiguration across Wales, including any plans for the downgrading of services at Llandudno Hospital.

Instead, the party has promised to hold 'proper dialogue' with clinicians, health bodies, and local people about the shape of medical services across the country. Only after those discussions, and only with a proper consensus from local people, will a decision be taken on how best to deliver local health services within Conwy.

To date, it has become clear that Labour's plans for hospital reconfiguration have been ill thought-out and inadequate and that their programme of closures and hospital downgrading has undermined public confidence in the NHS. Politicians should be taken out of the day-to-day running of the health service, insisting that decisions over how the NHS is run are best taken at as local a level as possible.

The Welsh Conservatives have made the NHS their number one priority in the election campaign and it clear that the people of Aberconwy want more funding to go directly to frontline services and not backroom burueaucracy. Thanks to a system where there is one administrator for every three doctors or nurses within the NHS in North Wales, we now have one of the most bureaucratic and convoluted health systems in Europe.

There has been an overwhelming positive public response from the people of Aberconwy to the Welsh Conservatives' policy document NH yeS, which has highlighted plans to give doctors greater powers to prescribe modern medicines, pilot nurse-led NHS walk-in centres, and to putting doctors and nurses at the forefront of the day-to-day management of the health service.
However, it is vitally important that the position on Llandudno Hospital is reiterated again before the Assembly election so that everyone knows exactly where the Conservative Party stands on this important issue.

Like many others during the last twelve months, I have made it absolutelty clear that the whole process of consultation over Llandudno Hospital has been ill-thought out and inadequate, with no proper local involvement on decisions affecting patient care .

Let me make therefore make it absolutely clear that we will halt Labour's plans for any reconfiguration of the NHS in North Wales, including the downgrading of services at Llandudno Hospital.

Most importantly, we will establish a proper dialogue on the future shape of medical services in Llandudno involving clinicians, the CHC and local people in a thorough and genuine debate on the provision of medical services in our community.

It is the very least that the people of Llandudno deserve after having their concerns completely ignored by the consulotation process".

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cyfarfod Menter Iaith Conwy

Cyfarfod gwych gyda Meirion Davies a criw Menter Iaith Conwy, lle cafwyd trafodaeth diddorol am ddyfodol y iaith ac, yn bwysicach, rol MIC mewn hyfforddiant, yn arbennig i'r sector gwirfoddol a busnesion bach yr ardal.

Mae'n glir fod yn rhaid i Lywodraeth nesaf y Cynulliad edrych yn ddyfnach i sut mae'r iaith a diwylliant yn gallu dod a mantais cystadleuol i Gymru ac i sicrhau fod 'icons' fel yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn cael arian i gefnogi gweithgareddau pwysig.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Visit to Sweden

Thought I would come over to Sweden for a couple of days' break from politics only to find that our leader has followed me over.

Who says Aberconwy Conservatives don't set the pace!


Certainly, Assembly economic officials could learn from the work being undertaken in Linkoping on the commercialisation of technology, especially through the work of Mjardevi Science Park, which makes the technium programme look like a collection of beach huts. The park currently over employs 5000 high tech staff across a range of businesses and it is about time that we had a similar development in Wales.

How about using that long redundant LG semiconductor plant as the catalyst for such a development?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Lansio maniffesto diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chwaraeon


Wedi bod yn fflat ar fy nghefn gyda anwyd trwm ers Dydd Llun (man flu iawn!) ond yn ol yn blogio o'r diwedd!

Wedi cael wythnos llwyddianus iawn yn canfasio dros 3,000 o dai yn ardal Llandudno. Mae'r eira yn edrych yn drwm iawn heddiw a tydi damweiniau ddim am helpu'r yrfa o gwbwl!

Yn lansio maniffesto Diwylliant, y Gymraeg a Chwaraeon yng Nghaergybi heddiw ac y mae hwn un o'r pethau pwysicaf i ddod allan o strategaeth etholiadol 2007.

Y mae un plaid - Plaid Cymru - wedi gweld ei hunan fel y blaid naturiol i siaradwyr Cymraeg. Wel, mae hyn am orffen yn sydyn iawn gyda'r maniffesto yma a mae yn dangos faint mor bell mae'r Ceidwadwyr wedi symyd ac hefyd bod mae yna ddyletswydd ar pob Plaid i amddifyn ein diwylliant.

Back on the blog after being in bed with the flu for the last couple of days!

This was followed a very successful canvassing campaign at the end of last week where nearly 3,000 households were covered. The snow looks like disrupting the work for today and tomorrow but we will be back on the road over the weekend!

Today sees the launch of our mini-manifesto for Culture, Media and Sport at Holyhead. This breaks new ground, in my opinion, over the position of the Welsh Conservatives regarding the Welsh language.
Too often in the past, one party - Plaid Cymru - has seen Welsh speakers as their natural supporters. Well, no more and it is time that every party in Wales saw itself as the defender of our heritage and culture.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Who knows what they will tax next?

Please check out this brilliant campaign video against more taxes on the excellent 18 Doughty Street website.

I think it speaks for all of us!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Canvassing in Conwy

The Canvassing team were out in Conwy on Saturday pushing our key message of saving the NHS. Councillors from Degany and Penrhyn bay came out to support the Conwy team in putting our message across.

I spent over two hours with Councillor Dennis Tew (pictured) walking up and down the streets of Conwy - at this rate, there will be little point in buying a treadmill to get fit and lose weight (and Dennis put me to shame walking up the hills around the town).

Politics, the new diet and exercise regime!!!

There is definitely a growing swell towards the Conservatives within the area and, more importantly, we had the opportunity to discuss our policies on the front door with many people.

It is also worth noting how many people are against not only Labour, but any party which will prop them up in the Assembly after May. "Enough is enough" is the clear message from the people in Conwy and they certainly do not want to see Rhodri Morgan returned as First Minister in May, propped up by either Plaid Cymru or the Lib-Dems.

Conwy branch launched


The new Conwy branch of the Aberconwy Conservatives was launched on Friday evening at the Press Room in Conwy by Theresa Villiers, the shadow Chief Secretary for the Treasury.

Over ten new members were recruited on the evening and this promises to be a stimulating forum for the development of the local Conservative Party, as it has been established and will be run by a group of young local businesspeople such as Paul Roberts of Clunk Click.

Still, politics is not all wine and snacks and I have already told Paul and his team to get their walking boots on to canvass Conwy over the next few weeks!!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Labour's Top Ten "successes"

Rhodri Morgan launches Labour's Top ten successes in the Assembly today.

Let's look at the real top ten of achievements for the Assembly Government:
  1. Abandoned their manifesto pledge to scrap home care charges for disabled people
  2. Turned Wales into the poorest part of the United Kingdom
  3. Failed to meet their hospital waiting times manifesto pledge
  4. Increased average council tax bills by £360 since 1999 and botched the revaluation process
  5. Failed to improve exam standards and tackle truancy
  6. Failed to deliver on a manifesto promise of free breakfasts for all primary school children
  7. Abolished the Welsh Development Agency and Wales Tourist Board, undermining Welsh businesses in an increasingly competitive global market
  8. Left NHS trusts deep in debt
  9. Interfered in the arts and attempted to politicise the Welsh language
  10. Increased spending on spin

This just shows, that despite billions of additional spending, Labour has failed Wales. Imagine what could have been done with a responsible Assembly Government.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Y sector gyhoeddus yn creu swyddi

Newyddion diddorol iawn oddiwrth Alun Cairns ddoe am y nifer o swyddi sydd wedi eu creu yn y sector gyhoeddus yng Nghymru ers 2003.

Er i Rhodri Morgan ddweud fod y sector breifat yng Nghymru sydd wedi creu y rhan fwyaf o'r swyddi o dan ei Lywodraeth, mae'r ystadegau yma yn cefnogi barn llawer i economegydd am yr or-ddibyniaeth ar arian y sector gyhoeddus ac, yn bwysicach, gwendid y sector breifat yng Nghymru.

Mae'n glir i unrhyw Geidwadwr fod rhaid cefnogi'r sector breifat i greu mwy o gyfoeth ac y mae'n amser i Lywodraeth y Cynulliad ddod a mwy o arbennigaeth busnes i fewn i helpu gyda datblygu'r economi, yn arbennig gyda rheoli y cronfa anferth o Ewrop sydd wedi ei clustnodio at ardaloedd tlotaf Cymru.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Guaranteed Welsh will help farmers

Last week, the Welsh Conservatives proposed introducing a new “Guaranteed Welsh” logo to promote Welsh produce and services. The scheme - similar to a system already operating in Ireland - would make it easier for consumers to support Welsh companies and safeguard jobs in Wales. I am proud to say that this new policy came from work I underook for the party to examine the rural economy, and I believe that the introduction of the new logo will be a 'powerful device' in promoting Welsh goods and services.

It would also safeguard Welsh jobs and promote Welsh quality as well as become an instantly recognisable symbol for consumers, who would know that when they buy a product or service featuring the Guaranteed Welsh logo, they are supporting Welsh companies and Welsh workers.

This follows Welsh Conservative plans to ensure new supermarkets enter into binding undertakings about the provision of local goods, pursuit of green policies, and working with local communities, ensuring that there is support for Welsh producers through the promotion of locally sourced food. The party is also calling for the launch of a Welsh Year of Food and Farming, working with schools to develop links with local farms to educate children and improve awareness of how food is produced. This could be a vital step in ensuring that the market for local produce is developed within Wales. Welsh farmers and welsh businesses have a reputation for quality and professionalism. In an increasingly competitive market it is vital we give them every chance to steal a march on their rivals. The Guaranteed Welsh symbol would quickly become a respected, recognisable, valuable marketing tool and a sign of quality.

Having worked in Dublin, I quickly noticed that there was a real effort by the Irish Government to ensure that consumers had the choice of backing local farmers and local businesses through their purchasing power. I believe that the time has come to do the same in Wales and to give consumers the real choice in supporting their local communities.

The Guaranteed Irish scheme has been a resounding success in promoting the best in Irish goods and services and in adopting such a scheme, I am confident that we can repeat that success in Wales by marketing the 'Made in Wales' brand as much as possible.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gwynt y Mor


With the tourism sector in North Wales facing considerable challenges during the next few years, I applaud the tenacity of those involved in the “Save Our Scenery” campaign. They have rightly highlighted the enormous anxiety expressed by many individuals and businesses in Llandudno over the proposed Gwynt Y Mor offshore windfarm scheme, which will place a minimum of 200 turbines – each as tall as Blackpool Tower - in full view of the sweeping vista of the ‘Naples of North Wales’.

With tourism supporting the economy within North Wales to the tune of nearly £1 billion every year, you would have thought that the Enterprise Department of the Assembly Government - which has responsibility for both energy and tourism - would have fully considered the impact of having windfarms at a location to which hundreds of thousands of people flock every year because of its very beauty – a beauty that will be despoiled by the presence of a new industrial park that would never be given permission offshore at such a location.

Instead, our elected politicians in both Cardiff and London seem to be perfectly content with npower’s premise that the project will have a major impact on reducing the impact climate change, create local jobs and have a minimal effect on the revenues generated from the tourism sector. Much of this has to do with the Assembly's obsession with wind turbines when the opportunity is there to invetsigate other. less intrusive sources of renewable energy, such as biomass, solar and tidal-generated energy.

The economic part of premise is based on the impact assessment commissioned by npower itself for the Gwynt y Mor Offshore wind farm. With a major infrastructure project that is estimated to cost over £1 billion, you would be surprised to find that its entire economic rationale rests predominantly on a survey of 204 businesses across Flintshire, Denbighshire, Conwy and the Wirral, with only 80 businesses from the tourism sector interviewed as part of the study. No detail whatsoever is provided within the assessment impact report of the number of businesses in Llandudno or the surrounding area that have participated in this survey. More worryingly, it more than likely that the conclusions from ‘local’ firms in support of this project are more than likely to be based on the perceptions of businesses in Mold, Ruthin and Hoylake rather than the area in which the windfarm will be based.

The actual views of the businesses interviewed seem to be based on perceptions rather than a considered opinion on the facts at hand. There are also major flaws and omissions within the report which are too numerous to mention here but which do give a positive spin as to the results. For example, only eleven respondents give reasons – such as being new and something to look at - as to why the wind turbines would encourage visitors. In contrast, 40 respondents believe that the turbines will be an eyesore or too noisy. Yet, the report highlights the ‘fact’ that 17 per cent of businesses felt that the development would encourage visitors to the area whilst 20 per cent felt that it would discourage visitors. Some mistake here, surely!

If we also examine the local economic benefits from this development, which promises a high number of jobs from the construction phase of the project, closer observation of shows that the report skilfully avoids any commitment on behalf of the developers to providing any employment locally. Instead we get glib statement on ‘encouraging’ contracters to recruit labour locally or that “it is important that the developer works with local partners and local communities to ensure that opportunities are made available to local people.” Yet on the next page, makes the statement that “the developer won’t be able to provide guarantees regarding where services are eventually procured from.”

The project also promises a total of 100 local jobs in the post-construction phase but again there is no guarantee that this employment will be sourced within Llandudno or the surrounding area and, more importantly, it will not compensate for the downturn in the tourism sector, an issue which even 20 per cent of the non-representative businesses sampled have acknowledged would happen.,

Therefore, in exchange for blighting the landscape for the foreseeable future, it would seem that the region will not be guaranteed any new jobs and the tourism industry in the area will get some viewing posts to look at the turbines and a few boat trips out to the bay. I am sure that will be little comfort to hoteliers and the other businesses which rely on tourists, and will certainly not compensate for the millions of pounds that will more than likely to be lost as a result of this development.

Given this, it is now time to challenge the Assembly Government and the DTI to provide their own detailed socio-economic impact assessment, one that would focus directly on the effect of the Gwynt-y-Mor scheme on Llandudno and its economy. If there is to be a business survey, then it should sample the range of tourism businesses within the area and not rely on the opinions of others who know little about the local tourist industry.

Like the proposed reform of the NHS in North Wales (including the downgrading of services at Llandudno Hospital), the economic rationale for the Gwynt y Mor scheme seems to be based on a flawed document. In both cases, the people of Llandudno have been treated as irrelevant to the whims of politicians, civil servants and big business. That is clearly not acceptable, and the voice of the people of Llandudno must be heard with regard to this development. They deserve no less from their elected politicians.