Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Are we talking about the right things?

So far, I'm finding that voters couldn't give a monkey's about the Assembly election. Sure, 40%+ of the people will vote - but its not the future of our Assembly that will bring them out. Very disappointing for me because I think the Assembly election is more important for Wales than a General Election. In part, its the result of the soporific impact of PR which removes much of the unpredictability.

What we do know is

1) Less people will vote Labour because they want a change (+ Blair, Iraq, Spin, Labour lies etc. etc.)
2) More people will vote Welsh Conservative because they want a change (+ Cameron)
3) Who knows with Plaid Cymru. Nobody believes their promises and there's no leadership.
4) Who knows with the Lib Dems - but fewer people will support them in Montgomeryshire where I live because of the cavorting of their Welsh leader.
5) Less people will vote for Ukip because they seem to have lost their way.

Why are electors so unengaged? Are we focusing on the right issues? So far, the whole election seems to be about the NHS, which is hugely important to people. But where are the philosophical differences - as opposed to 'managerial' differences.

Unsurprisingly, I like our commitments.

a) Higher priority for modern medicines
b) Reduce bureaucracy by scrapping Local Health Boards.
c) Suspend service reconfiguration and set up a cross-party commission.
d) Unified Care Agencies - giving local authorities a wider role in social care.
e) Streamline the social care inspection regime.
f) More support for the mentally ill through early treatment.
g) More rights to respite care.
h) More support for looked after children + protection of 'whistle blowers'.

This is all good stuff - but the only exciting 'philosophical' policy is enthusiasm for Foundation Hospitals, which I am a great supporter of.

What really surprises me is that there is almost no coverage of how we are going to govern ourselves in Wales. When are we going to give the people the chance to vote on law making powers? Why are we not discussing North/South transport links to strengthen Wales as a nation. There is almost no discussion on how to deal with the problem of access to housing. At least Cymuned are highlighting this. There are manifesto commitments on these issues - but everything has been drowned out by every party shouting out "We will manage the NHS better than you". It seems to be very different in Scotland

I've got some 'hustings' coming up next week. I hope that the debate has moved on a bit by then. I care as much as anyone else about the future of our NHS, but I want a debate about the future of our nation as well.


Anonymous said...

3) Who knows with Plaid Cymru. Nobody believes their promises and there's no leadership.

No one in the Conservative party perhaps. The leader's a guy called Ieuan Wyn Jones. I'm sure you've met him.

Alison said...

People around here are voting Plaid, 'because noone is looking after Wales'. Whether Plaid is equipped to do this, is besides the point. They've sold (over the years?) that they care about Wales enough.

Hospital beds, someone please address it. Last week my dad needed to be admitted to hosp, Aberystwyth was full. Both doctor and ambulance admission was turned away. Shrewsbury said it was full too.

Ambulance wanted to move him to Hereford, some place far down south Wales or Wrexham. All about 90 odd miles?

He got sent to Shrewsbury anyhow, and spent around 40 hours on a trolley (attached to monitors, oxygen etc) before they found a bed to admit him. That bed was temp, until they found a surgical one. Took the hosp 6 days to get this. He's been lying in a bed for 1 week, waiting for a test which couldn't happen until the surgical one became available. As patients cannot be processed fast enough, then a further backlog.

We are having to use England resources, because Wales cannot deal with it.

The Welsh Assembly will spend whatever amount on free prescriptions that people can essentially afford, but there's no beds to be had in hospital for people who are critically ill. Instead you are meant to go some stupid place, and the waiting is horrendous.

Free prescriptions, yet they want to close down Llanidloes and other community hospitals as there's not enough money!

The logic is what? Patronise voters, by offering freebies? That's exactly what it feels like.

I think people won't vote, because they think the Welsh Assembly are seriously getting it wrong, and a total mismanagement for Wales. At least that's the feeling locally.

Anonymous said...

No wonder people don't vote. I've just received the Lib Dems regional leaflet. For some reason they've called it 'Snap'. Only one candidate Peter Black is mentioned wit oly his photo on the front page. For some reason they have an article from Claire Rayner and they even claim that Plaid will have a Welsh army and buy aircraft carriers. Not only is it bizarre but it insults the intelligence of the average voter.

Glyn Davies AM said...

Perhaps I should have said 'diffused' leadership, sanddef. For the last few weeks, it has looked as if weither Helen Mary or Dafydd Wigley are the leaders. Anyway, its how it looks to me. And I was in reflective mood when I posted - rather than partisan mood.

Alison, you make my point for me. There are serious problems providing an adaquate health service - and the problems are just as bad in England. (I am meeting Ch Exec of the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals for our quarterly meeting tomorrow). You are simply disillusioned with the 'Welsh Assembly' rather than with the Assembly Government. Unless the debate is about different approaches to running the NHS, it simply becomes an argument about who would make the best managers. Even on free prerscriptions you criticise the Welsh assembly - while the Welsh Conservatives have consistantly opposed this 'freebie' policy. And, in passing, Plaid Cymru backed the Labour Assembly Government on free prescriptions.

Glyn Davies AM said...

I agree with you anon. Some of the literature is utterly childish. its a bit like the boring debate which sometimes happens in the Assemly debating chamber when we all agree. Its what happens when there are no fundamental issues to debate. The only leaflet I've contributed to has been Dan Munford's in Montgomeryshire which told people what Dan thougt and didn't attack other parties.

Anonymous said...

I have to laugh at Rhodders in the paper today (as I often do). The Tories will destroy the Welsh NHS, he says. In the same paper we find out that after 8 years of Labour the Welsh NHS is in debt and that patients are in danger of malnutrition as nurses are understaffed and overstretched.

Alison said...

Okay Glyn, thanks for the correction re government and Assembly.

However, I think there needs to be stronger publicity about this. Its not getting through to the street ... all people see free prescriptions happened, and the health service is failing to deliver elsewhere because there isn't enough money. Close the community hospitals! Powys LHB management a mess! No beds! etc.

Since this is all happening, there is the assumption everyone is asleep. Perhaps this has something to do with the media, or rather lack of.

Left Field said...

Well, anonymous. Sounds like you are in South Wales West like me. I received a Lib Dem leaflet the other day with 2 pictures of Jenny Randerson & Jenny Willott and one of Tony Blair and George W Bush. no picture of any candidates I could actually vote for.

I agree with Alison 100%. People who can afford it (like me) are getting free prescriptions yet tough luck if you actually need the NHS beyond that.

I think these freebie light bulbs, laptops and toothbrushes are starting to make the whole thing look like a farce. At the end of the day it isn't free. It's our money.

Anonymous said...

I think these freebie light bulbs, laptops and toothbrushes are starting to make the whole thing look like a farce. At the end of the day it isn't free. It's our money

Couldn't agree more. And the free toothbrush totally mystifies me.

Glyn Davies AM said...

Of course the Tories won't destroy our NHS. That's a really stupid thing to say. Our aim will be to get more out of it - for the same money.
I am personally very keen on 'Foundation Hospital' status as a way invoving every one interested in becoming part of the management of our hospitals. In England every hospial will become a foundation hospital over the next few years. Not many people understand how this arrangement works yet.

Alison, the distinction between The National Assembly and the Government will become much more clear after May under the new constitution. And a good thing too.

I have to defend the 'free light bulbs' because it is our policy. The aim is to stimulate people into thinking about energy saving. But in general, I disapprove of this 'freebie' approach to campaigning. It breeds a dependency attitude - and smacks of trying to buy votes. Problem is it seemed to work last time for Labour. The backlash against free prescriptions may discourage this sort of approach in future.