Friday, December 26, 2008

Nice and easy does it.

Front page of today's Western Mail, and First Minister in the National Assembly of Wales is out walking his dog, looking every inch a man already in retirement. Turn the page, and there he is sitting in his armchair in front of the fireplace at Michaelston-le-Pit, complete with Financial Times lying casually unopened on the floor. There's a mug within arm's reach, possibly containing a pre-nap Horlicks. Mr Rhodri Morgan is a picture of contentment. Who would ever have thought that Wales' GDP (or GVA) has fallen and carried on falling throughout his term as First Minister.

Apparently he's been thinking about what his Government can do to help Welsh business cope with the recession. He been telling Western Mail's Chief Reporter, Martin Shipton that his strategy is based on what he did in the Great Foot and Mouth Crisis of 2001. I wonder if he's planning to bury all the casualties in a great big hole on top of the Eppynt again. He thinks it will all turn out OK though, because "there will be Irish tourists popping over to Fishgaurd for the day". No problem - or at least there won't be as long as there is no turning off of money coming from the Treasury. His main worry seems to be that the Barnett Formula will not be reformed to give Wales more public money and that some of the money given to those now losing their jobs and becoming dependent on the state will come out of the funds currently given to Wales. Private sector - what private sector?

Its worth quoting Martin Shipton's reflections after his latest interview with Mr Morgan;

....Rhodri Morgan seems increasingly withdrawn from the hurly-burly of political controversy. He doesn't want to enter the AMs expenses row, and he certainly doesn't want to get involved in speculating about how the leadership contest to succeed him will pan out. Instead, he's happy to act the role of observer, not attempting to pretend that the world's economic problems will be solved in Wales - or even that Wales' economic problems will be solved from Wales....."

Oh, and before you go Martin, put that old recording of Wales winning the Grand Slam on again, and pass me the Horlicks.


Anonymous said...

I am increasingly worried about business support having been sent a copy of a disturbing email, the contracts that have taken 8 months to award are now up in the air again.
wag have withdrawn them and are looking to re-align as circumstances have changed - can u believe the lack of business acumen
For Gods sake someone take charge who knows what they are doing ,because this lot dont
IWJ is incompentent as far as business is concerned. DET have no idea,Labour are a waste of space and meanwhile we sme's struggle
And the enterprise agencies must be at their wits end

Anonymous said...

Truth is that the Welsh assembly govt can do almost nothing in the recession. This is a macro economic issue that calls for macro economic solutions. Thank God Wales isn't independent. We'd be like Iceland.

P(atent)-Man said...

OK, I will bite - not that it takes much of a red rag to get me the P-Man to bite. But as u put it earlier Glyn, "There is a strong history of grassland research in mid Wales."

Ahh, a non sequitur someone might cry, but is it?

As you note Glyn, Wales has under Rhodri Morgan (RM, who seems to be turning into REM sleep) has experienced an economy in which "Wales' GDP (or GVA) has fallen and carried on falling throughout his term as First Minister".

Yes, Wales does a LOT of research, but how much of this research is turning into jobs in the private sector? Not much is the short answer otherwise the Welsh economy would be experiencing a revitalization - with research spend being the engines for growth and wealth creation in Wales.

Instead we have RM asleep at the switch and now quite happy to go into REM sleep. Meanwhile excellently trained Welsh people who want jobs in the private sector can't find them in the private sector because essentially Wales lacks a high GVA private sector. Not every bright well-trained person can or wants to work in the increasingly dominant Welsh public sector.

This is an old tune, but worth repeating: a Wales lacking a high-GVA private sector economy can't stand on its own feet and will have to stay shackled to London.

I don't want to hear the old argument that if Wales was independent from London that the WAG would then be free to fix the low-GVA Welsh economy.

The facts are clear: the WAG already has the means to adopt policies to turn Welsh research into job and wealth creation, but lacks the will or common sense to take the steps to make this happen.

Meanwhile, instead of Wales being able to ride out the recession, it is a victim of the recession and Welsh families will be hurt far more than if the Welsh economy was driven by the engines at its disposal: the HUGE amount of world-class research coming out of its universities.

Sadly, world-class research is actually making our competitors more competitive for lack of IP protection in Wales.

Inventions and discoveries are not engines for growth if they are not protected in some form, e.g., by obtaining registered/issued/pending patents.

Meanwhile Welsh public services like the Welsh Ambulance Service remain underfunded and Welsh families are being stressed beyond breaking point ... c/o a WAG that refuses to apply common sense to turn world-class research into jobs for Welsh families.

Anonymous said...

The fact remains that there remians a vacuum in wwelsh politics with regard to the recession . If in doubt do nothing - seems to be the maxim whilst the people of wales are crying out for loeadership and common sense

Anonymous said...

I am sure you were unaware of this when you posted Glyn, but Rhodri has spent much of Christmas in hospital having non-urgent treatment, hence the laid-back photo-calls.

Rebecca from Kerry said...

When oh when are you Welsh Conservatives going to learn your lesson?

Your vicious characterisation of Rhodri Morgan failed only a few weeks ago Glyn with Bourne's dodgy dossier.

Now here you are now trying to resurrect that attack line once again. Will you never learn that as a political strategy it has failed?

Move on Glyn. Address the serious issues - if you dare!

It is obvious that in the absence of your party's ability to do this you turn to pointless ridicule!

Paysano said...

One shouldn`t prhaps mention the war,(here it is!) but in economic terms, does anyone think that the good people across the Muslim world are now so eager to invest in the US/UK, or to send their children to our universities.
One can hardly expect them to be rallying to our support.
With over one million dead Iraqui civilians, thousands of dead Afghan civilians, one would hardly expect the Islamic world to covet British or American products.
Interestingly the "credit crunch" seems to be far less severe in countries that have not been channeling billions into arms and ammunition, all of which are then expended with no constructive benefit other than a repeat order to the manufacturer.
At least "our Mr Morgan" didn`t divert WAG spending to blow up peasant famers in Afghanistan, nor has he set about building tanks, warplanes and missiles to defend the "people of Wales."
The governments of Washington and Westminster, on the other hand, seem to have taken great delight in funneling trillions into what has simply become a bloodthirtsy and corrupted morass.

P-Man said...

Rebecca from Kerry> the low GVA economy speaks directly to Rhodri Morgan gross failure in prioritizing the development of the Welsh private sector. The evidence is self-evident: Wales produces vast amounts of world-class research but the Welsh Assembly Government headed up by the First Minister Rhodri Morgan has grossly failed to turn this world-class research into an engine for Welsh growth and job creation. There is no excuse for this abject failure of leadership.

Perhaps finally the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) is finally beginning to realize the opportunity cost that flows from lack of sensible focus on turning world-class research into jobs for Welsh families; into an engine for growth; a catalyst to change the Welsh economy from a low-GVA economy to a high-GVA economy. Welsh families are now paying the price for this lack of leadership and emphasis c/o the WAG c/o the First Minister in charge.

PS I was a card-carrying member of the Labour Party, and would like to be so again, but I can see what public sector dominance has done to Wales – forced many Welsh people with high skill sets who don’t want to work in the public sector to move away from Wales – thereby amplifying the problem of public-sector dominance in the Welsh economy, which has resulted in a low-GVA economy. Until the WAG works to break this vicious circle Wales will continue to ‘enjoy’ a low-GVA economy dependent on handouts from London. The opportunity costs and issues that flow from Wales having a low-GVA economy are clear to see: otherwise avoidable stress and pressure on Welsh families.

Glyn Davies said...

VM - Frustration boiling over!!

All - There seems to be some ignoring of the point here. (In my opinion) politics is rightly a ruthless business, and political leaders should not be allowed the luxury of deciding their own retirement dates, or allowed to switch to cruise for the last year or so. When the burning desire to lead has gone, its time for a change. Irrespective of what sort of a record he has as First Minister (and I think its very poor), it seems clear to me that Rhodri Morgan has lost his desire to lead. I'm sorry if he has been in hospital, but the Western Mail coverage yesterday was of a man in retirement, not a man who is ill. Its not a 'personal attack' on the man himself to find this portrayal of my nation's leader as deeply worrying. Its a situation that's damaging to Welsh politics. Its the First Minister and not the Presoding Officer who should be leading from the front. Our nation cannot afford a First Minister who is not totaly focussed on the job of leading. Governing Wales is not a reality TV programme. In British politics, we have become far too obsessed with 'support the leader' politics. We need hungry leaders, and when they fail or become jaded, they should be changed.

Paysano - Don't know why you absolve 'Mr Morgan' from the UK's defence decisions or defence spending. He is a fully signed up member of the Party that forms the UK Governemnt which has taken all these decisions over the last 11 years. I daresay that if the Conservative Party adopted a policy which I disagreed with at a personal level, it would not absolve me from criticism.

E-Man said...

Paysano> errrrr, the First Minister is a member of the Labour Party - in fact he was an MP at Westminster for many years.

errr, the people of Wales helped put Labour in power at Westminster. Without the votes of Labour party supporters in Wales the Labour Party would stand far less chance of being the party in power at Westminster

errrr, Welsh troops have served in both Iraq and Afghanistan ...

errrr, the Welsh Labour Party support the development of St. Athans military base ....

errrr, there are many Welsh people serving in all three branches of the UK military: RAF, RN and the British Army.

errrr Wales also has at least one major ordinance (military munitions) factory.

errrr Wales has a wing factory that will almost certainly be used to build the wings for the next generation European in-flight refueling tankers to fill up the tanks of military jets, and will inevitably be used in future foreign operations both in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Finally Given Up onn Politics said...

interesting piece Glyn but since when did Martin Shipton or any of the welsh press speak for the welsh public at large Glyn, that' why so few people read the Western Mail and watch BBC Wales ot ITV Wales news and current affairs programmes.

At a time when most people are worried whether they will still have jobs and if they can pay bills our First Minister Rhodri Morgan is totally uniterested in people's problems and wont admit there are even problems for goodness sake.

Put togther we have a press pack and political establishment (lets not forget the AM's and MP's expenses farce) who are totally out of touch with real life in Wales and have no accountability, sadly we don't expect any better and we just give up expecting that anything will change.

Anonymous said...

things must be changing if Martin Shipton is begining to question Rhodri Morgan time left as First Minister because he was one of the most vocal for him to stay after Labour's melt down in last years Assembly Elections.

Does he know something we don't?

We're all doomed said...

Why the surprise? Rhodri has always been one of the laziest politicians in Wales for years. Ask any civil servant what happens when Rhodri decides to go home even if there is still business to be transacted.He also knows that with the cutbacks expected in public expenditure after 2010 whoever succeeds him is going to have a pretty torrid time deciding where the axe will fall

Glyn Davies said...

E-man - That's a very good response to Paysano. Its a much used tactic by the First Minister. He supports Labour policy, but likes to give the impression to the public that he doesn't really - trying to win the best of both worlds.

Finally given up - The Welsh media don't speak for the Welsh people, but they are the best way we have of assessing what is happening. Personally I think Martin Shipton provides a better reflection on Welsh politics than most other.

Why don't you put youyrself forward as a candidate at the next election. That's how I started. I disagreed with something that my local councillor did, an ddecided to stand against him. You never know - you might end up as First Minister.

anon - I don't know but I suspect that Martin might agree with me that the job of First Minister is not one that can be treated as a convenience, where the incumbant can just carry on as long as suits. Leading Wales is a 100% full-time job. The way it was presented this week was totally unacceptable (in my opinion anyway).

Another day, another E-Man said...

Of course, I have my mentor to thank for that "very good response to Paysano". Everything that I am, everything that I will be, is down to GD-Maaaan.

Errrr, I meant GD-Man.