Monday, March 03, 2008

The fierce Mrs Hart

Even though I look on her as a good friend, I'm well aware that Assembly Government Minister, Edwina Hart is not a lady to tangle with. She's duffed me up in the Debating Chamber more than once. So what on earth is UK Government's Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw thinking about, getting into a fight with the Gower Pit bull. Perhaps he was fooled by the soft pink colours that she tends to wear. My advice is to put your money on Edwina. Its an extraordinary row though - about car parking charges at our hospitals. There will be no holding back from the Cardiff Bay corner. Mrs Hart has got form in this sort of thing. I seem to recall her having some choice words for John Prescott over something or other a few years ago. She doesn't take prisoners.

I don't find the issue itself an easy one to take a view on. On balance I think I'm with Edwina on this one though. I just don't like the tendency that Governments have to raise money in sneaky ways - and there's nothing more sneaky than taxing patients and hospital visitors for parking. Its a tax on people when they are at their most vulnerable. (My opposition to free prescriptions was based on the knowledge that the most vulnerable already enjoyed free provision.) On the other hand it is another example of the 'freebie' culture so typical of Rhodri Morgan's leadership. And of course, there's the inevitable question about the £5 million plus which is currently raised. Where is the replacement cash coming from. Longer waiting lists?

But the fight is much more interesting than the issue. One of Rhodri Morgan's main arguments when he is searching out votes, is to emphasise the good working relationship that exists between the two Governments each end of the M4 because they are both Labour led. Well, nobody seems to have told Edwina Hart. Its probably totally unfair, but there is something a touch supercilious about Ben Bradshaw. So - "Sock it to him Edwina".


Anonymous said...

and there was me thinking you were an ok bloke but your admiration for Edwina Hart puts you in a different light Glyn, Ms Hart is all the worst elements of old welsh labour.

One point on the charges is that if our hospitals are relying on money from the car parks for front line services then its says a lot about the quality of the Chief Executive's and Finance Director's running our hospitals and their ability to set budgets.

Are hospital budgets really that tight and if so what are the National Assembly and UK Government gonna do about it.

Anonymous said...

And of course, there's the inevitable question about the £5 million plus which is currently raised. Where is the replacement cash coming from. Longer waiting lists?

That is what the Assembly members should be asking and chasing.
Is Brynle out of action?
No sight or sound from him since Lords knows when!

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Speak as you find I say. And I always found Edwina Hart to be straight and she actually answered questions put by other Assembly Members - which was so different from most of her colleagues. Neither will she put up with any messing. I first met her 20 years ago when circumstances put her in judgement of me, and I found her fair, when there could have been advantage in being unfair. Anyway, on this issue, I agreed with her.

anon - Indeed they should be asking these questions. I hope that they will be. While I agree with the decision, it is not all upside. Brynle looked in good form on Saturday at our Conference - well recovered from the health problems of last year.

Southpaw Grammar said...

I dont disagree with alot of what you say particular with regard the 'sneaky' way it is a cost.

During the birth of my son i must have racked up about 30 quid of parking pay and display tickets.

Anonymous said...

not satisfied with sucking up to plaid, you're trying to ingratiate yourself with labour now!

Glyn Davies said...

anon - You should have heard the good things I used to say about Sue Essex! Just because I rather like a person, does not mean that I agree with them. I'm just not a tribal politician. Its so the last century.

As for plaid,one of the poiticians I'm most critical of is Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones, for 'wobbling' all over the place and 'chickening out'. But I like him a lot - and I look on the irracible Rhodri Glyn Thomas as a good friend, even though I disagree with most things he says! But I realise that my party has to deal with Plaid if we are ever to have a chance to influence the way Wales is governed. Its living in the real world, not the world as I would like it to be.

Anonymous said...

no we can't deal with plaid. they want to dismember our country. no need to help them. would rather deal with labour.

alanindyfed said...

What we are seeing here is the government of Wales making decisions which the ministers in Westminster do not approve of, yet can do nothing about because of the effect of devolution which is transferring more powers to Wales. As Helen Mary Jones says, it is not the minister's business and he is interfering in affairs over which he has no longer any authority. His comments are out of place.
We can expect more of this.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

All good points Glyn; I like you even though I don't agree with your thesis that we all agree with bio crops. I don't, I agree with using land not previously used to grow human or animal feed to be used for bio crops or better still wait on cellulose technology to provide a solution to providing feedstock for ethanol fermentation plants that does not impact on food supply to humans. Anything that cuts into a finite resource that feeds us food to eat is plain nuts. I have no problems with turning over land to bio crops if this land has not been previously used to grow food crops (whether it is for animal feed or human feed). I read accounts some time ago about corn prices hurting the working poor in Mexico. Now we have UK pig farmers going out of business, and US supermarket food prices are climbing through the roof and will inevitably impact on the working poor who are already making difficult choices between paying for medical insurance and keeping a roof over their heads.

Ordinary working people are/will suffer greatly with farming land insanely being turned over to provide feed stock for the ethanol fermentation plants. I am a qualified and experience microbiologist (though I later turned to chemistry, computational chemistry and predicting protein structures) - even though I have spent a good deal of time both at BSc and Masters level studying the finer details of fermentation processes and other bioprocesses, I can't say it was ever sensible to switch farming to providing feed stocks for ethanol fermentation industrial plants.

It was and remains insanity. There are ways of making ethanol that don't involve using human food. Cellulose has a lot of "trapped sugar molecules" in it. We should never use human food to feed bio-ethanol fermentation plants. The politicians were very ill advised or crumbled in the face of insane fascists in the global warming lunacy brigade, and now we have a bitter harvest of people going hungry. The USA will be exporting less grain as will over major grain producers as farmers switch to food production for humans, to providing feedstock to local/regional intra-country ethanol plants. This is a clear INSANITY and frankly, a crime against humanity. No family should have to suffer going without nutritious foods because farmers are encouraged to sell their product to make industrial ethanol.

Prasit said...

Glyn , you seem to be a nice guy.
But to be very honest with you, I do not think you are cut out for the Politics of the big boys in Westminster.
To me, you are very much of being nicey nicey with the opposition parties, one only has to look at recent posts to see this, it stands out a mile.
Some people are leaving posts taking the mick, and you fall straight for them.
Plaid are a menace, no back bone, let us stick to our principles and not keep trying to appease Plaid and Labour.
We need to stick to our guns, our people dererve no less.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - An interesting comment. I certainly think that on some issues there will be agreement between Labour and the Conservatives - and the two parties have worked in coalition in local government. But I cannot see that such a grand coalition could be contemplated at the Assembly level.

alan - I find what has happened as quite astonishing. Bradshaw launched a withering attack on the healthcare record of the Labour Party in Wales. And the gloves have come off in Cardiff. There is a damage limitation exercise going on, with Bradshaw being hung out to dry - but I suspect that he speaks for a fair few Labour MPs.

Glyn Davies said...

prasit - Some of us are different people in different places. In the Assembly there is almost no real power. Much of the disagreement is synthetic. This bored me to tears. I could never see the point of pretending to disagree for show. Mind you I could do psuedo-outrage quite well! Now when there was a debate that made a real difference, it was another matter. I recall the late Peter Law telling me that the most aggressive speech ever delivered in the Assembly was my attack on the First Minister's plans for a new Assembly Building.

And do you really think I don't realise when a comment is taking the p***. My policy is to respond as if they meant it. Its just a question of who is taking the p*** out of who.

I'm in politics to exercise power. And in the Assembly that means working with other parties. There are many Conservatives who prefer the 'comfort zone' of refusing to contemplate coalitions with anyone. And ask yourself who lost out rather in last May's election and survived in Welsh politics - and then ask yourself again whether you are right to be quite so 'cocky' in your comments. But I'll continue to answer them reasonably.

crabwall said...

"There is a damage limitation exercise going on, with Bradshaw being hung out to dry - but I suspect that he speaks for a fair few Labour MPs."

He also speaks for a lot of other people who are dismayed at the mess the assembly has made of the health of our nation. Good old Bradshaw.

Anonymous said...

Prasit has a point.
Wonder what the politics are like where he hails from?

Oscar said...

"In the Assembly there is almost no real power. Much of the disagreement is synthetic"
Glyn Davies

Well there we have it!
In many ways the ARSEmbly is what I always said it was, fake and a waste of time.
There speaks a man who knows!

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

London twang like "my old cock" doesn't "do" over here. I had to put my American wife off asking for a "fanny pack" which has a totally different meaning in the UK from the USA. And "rubber" ... never use it in Chicago unless ur really asking for a condom. It's all going to be in my book, "Welshman in America", I just need to write the darn thing.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

... also, never talk about "schemes" on the US side fo the wee pond ... I did that and when I explained what I was talking about the strained faces facing me looked suddenly more relaxed. "Slip roads" have no meaning, and confusion abounds when one talks of "lifts" and bonnets ... pavement and "the bill", etc. 'Matters of form and substance' ... should be the title of book #2. Meanwhile I'm trying to get a British scientist to tell me if he published his fantastic discovery more than 12 months ago, because if he didn't I can draft a patent and file it over here where a "one year grace period" for filing a patent is part of U.S. patent law. Did you know that the British patent office is in Newport, Gwent? Maybe you knew, but I wonder how many Brits know.

Glyn Davies said...

crabwall - I did write that I thought it was an 'on balance' decision for me to agree with the Minister.

anon - and what point has prasit got? Not often I get spiked by a comment, but this one did it. On this occasion he/she has no worthwhile point at all, (in my opinion).

Glyn Davies said...

oscar - I've always said that as it stands the Assembly is not worthwhile. Nothing at all new there. Its one of the reasons I favour law making powers. What is the point of a government if it does not have power to make law. Since May, the Assembly is gradually aquiring power, an djust watch the quality of the debates rise. Hope so anyway!

crabwall said...

"Since May, the Assembly is gradually aquiring power, an djust watch the quality of the debates rise. Hope so anyway!"

Won't the quality of the debaters have to rise too? Just look at the sort of people we have there!

Trevor Lloyd- davies said...

I think that Prasit made a very good point, it needled you, because deep down you knew it to.
I know for a fact you made a bloody good County Councillor, but may be, you will be out of your depth in national politics.
You have never grasped what opposition is really about.
You seem to mention Labour and Plaid more in praise on your blog, yet rarely mention the good work been done by some of your own party both at local level and indeed at national Level.
the revelation that the assembly bored you was some thing else!
Very interesting to note!

Glyn Davies said...

crabwall - That is unfair, in my opinion. There are several very good debaters in the Assembly as well. No-one can look much of a debater when there is no real debate before them. There are always some who cannot perform well in every parliament. I've sat through some really good debates in the Assembly, when there is genuine disagreement between parties.

Trefor - thanks for the kind word. Prasit's comment didn't really niggle me - or I wouldn't have approved it! Judgement about my quality as an AM is ok, even if its negative - but not the suggestion that I don't realise that I'm daft enough to not know when someone is trying to wind me up! and we should be more precise about what bored me in the Assembly. It was Questions, when so much of it was posturing, and 'motherhood and apple pie' debates where everybody just agreed with each other in a worthy sort of way. There were plenty of great aspects to the work as well - which is why I was so disappointed to lose last NMay.

Anonymous said...

don't worry glyn. your in good company. rhodri morgan once said that debates in the welsh assembly are like watching paint dry.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

I Endorse Glyn Davies and 'I approve this message'

Glyn Davies would be out of his depth in national politics - this is a joke yes?

It is VERY clear to me that Glyn often meaningfully pulls his punches and does not waste energy on fights that don't 'mount to a tin of beans'.

He is also not tribal, can see the good (and bad) in members of other political parties. He engages brain before mouth and is quite tempered in his arguments (unlike me). Now Glyn may not have a Masters in whatever, but as Warren Buffett might put it:

National Politics are run by people and the best people are not necessarily the ones who splash it all about. Take Glyn Davies, “Glyn came to politics after doing well in making money from farming (no mean feat). He’s smart, loves politics and has friends across party lines. That beats having a 'what’s it' any time.”

(Mutated from one of Warren Buffett's letters to shareholders ... reported in today's Telegraph.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...


"It is interesting that Gordon Brown has invented new ways to lie to the public when his old ways seemed to work just fine."

Special thanks to Warren Buffett for the raw material.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Sorry, but Warren Buffett's one liners are just so good ...

“Gordon Brown is the kind of snake that would take your granny’s life savings with the promise that in 2800 years time he’ll give her back her money.”

Thanks to Warren Buffett for providing the raw material.

Jill st clare said...

If the good Dr thinks the homeland and it's politicians are so cool, perhaps he may consider moving back to the homeland!
We would rather be over there!

dowlais twp said...

said Anon 2One point on the charges is that if our hospitals are relying n money from the car parks for front line services then its says a lot about the quality of the Chief Executive's and Finance Director's running our hospitals and their ability to set budgets."

Spot on, no one holds these idiots to account, not even the NAFW HSS committee who usually give them a pat on the back.

Its about time matron came out fighting, spends far to much time hiding her light under a bushel

Glyn Davies said...

anon - Thanks for reminding me. Rhodri was more rude about those worthy debates when the voting was 58-0 than I was! There were some good debates when there was genuine disagreement, and the vote made a difference.

christopher - Thank you for the kind words.

Jill - well I wouldn't want to be over there.

Dowlais Twp - I recall discussing this with one hospital Chief Executive about the contribution made by parking charges. It was between half a million and one million pounds. Inevitably this becomes incorporated in budgets - and it would be difficult if this funding was cut off without some alternative form of funding.

Anonymous said...

"I'm in politics to exercise power."

what a laugh. what power have you ever exercised? world of your own, lad. world of your own.