Saturday, January 02, 2010

General Election Campaign starts today.

It looks as if we're off. David Cameron has been talking today about there being just 153 days left until the General Election, and outlining some of his campaigning strategy. Its probably 123 days. Personally, I think of it as being 17 weeks on Thursday. Some think it may be sooner. Anyway, I thought it might be an idea to do a 'walk-about' around the biggest town in the Montgomershire constituency this morning, Newtown. Just to get a feel of what it would be like to be an MP. First stop was a coffee morning in the United Reform Church. Blimey. I didn't make it to the tables. Was scragged by the coffee makers, outraged by what they see as threats to Newtown Hospital. On into town, and accosted by several others outraged by Council inefficiencies, and concerns about Tesco's imminent arrival. And that was all before I made to Evan's Cafe, where Nigel and Desley's informal 'Government of Newtown' sits at 11.00 every day.

Seems as though the Cameron Plan is to dominate the agenda over the next few weeks by publishing our manifesto - one chapter at a time. First chapter's due on Monday. One of my 2010 resolutions is to read our manifesto, something I've never really done before. Should be able to handle one chapter before glazing over. I didn't hear today's Cameron speech, so I'm depending on the media's take on it, which you can read here.

I like the principle of decentralising power, and would like it to be one of my personal campaign themes. But I need to spend some time translating the principle into a 'meaningful narrative' - at least that's what someone said to me in Newtown today. First thing I'll have to do is understand just what this new fashionable word 'narrative' actually means. I can certainly understand the manifesto commitments to cut Corporation Tax, to increase number of apprentices and invest in a high speed rail link - but I'll only feel comfortable linking these with cuts in spending elsewhere. Today's eye catching idea is the National Security Council. I really like this proposal. We are at war in Afghanistan, and though the most dominating issue 124 days from now will be how on earth we restore life to our finances, the earth that Gordon Brown will have scorched, handling the war will remain a very important issue. Now we're off, it all feels rather exciting.


alanindyfed said...

Decentralising power of course means transferring powers from Westminster to the national parliaments in Scotland and (soon) Wales and Cornwall and allowing them to govern themselves. No doubt that is what you are referring to. Hopefully you will convince the PM of the wisdom of this policy.
But you knew I would say that. ;-)

Alwyn ap Huw said...

Actually Alan decentralising powers should include transferring powers from the Assembly to County Councils, and from County Councils to Parish Councils. But that's not what Cameron means.

In Cameron speak decentralising powers means transferring powers to individuals. Those who can pay for things like education and health care through personal subscription do so, those who can't are left on the scrapheap.

Stonemason. said...

I understood from reading the speeches of DC during the last six months that "decentralising power" is not a "single stop shopping experience", but the pushing of power to the very people that can exercise it directly, down as far as the community council bypassing intermediate government though not bypassing scrutiny.

I wonder how the WAG will cope with relinquishing power to the public, or will the WAG attempt to deny this opportunity of direct democracy.

Tough times for DC, direct democracy is not to the taste of certain sections of political life.

alanindyfed said...

We have to wait for Glyn's comment to find out what DC means by decentralisation.
It is important to know DC's exact position with regard to Wales and whether Scotland and Wales are regarded equally concerning the outcome of devolution and the independence issue. Presumably DC would accede to public opinion and the result of the referendum?
A thorough re-evaluation of the British constitution is called for as well as the status of the House of Lords as we move towards real democracy.

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - DC can answer for himself. But he has confirmed that he would not veto a referendum on granting law making powers in all devolved fields to the National Assembly, if its requested - rather against the expectations of Plaid Cymru leadership so I'm told. But decentralisation is a lot more than this. It does involve devolving power to town and community councils, and to the voluntary sector. Personally, I think it involves rowing back on state control and surveillance at EU, Westminster, Cardiff Bay and local authority levels. Also, it involves allowing peopel to retain more of their own income, so that people can have more control on how its spent.

alanindyfed said...

(the "war cabinet")

Peter Williams said...

Glyn, in your comment of Jan 03, last paragraph, you sum up exactly my own views on this huge and crucial policy. Glyn, you could be given the job of vetting DC´s speeches and making them more punchy and precise ?

suzy davies said...

Confirm that Alwyn ap Huw's analysis incorrect.

State will still be major force under Cameron, but looking forward to much more power being given back to those other institutions that make up and define our communities.

Includes those informal institutions which have brought people together because the need presented itself. Many of these voluntary orgs, of course, but not exclusively. I see it including local businesses, familes, neighbourhoods, churches, even small state aparatus like community councils

Main challenge will be to stop these losing their identity and becoming bureaucracy machines. Confident it can be done.

Devolution isn't a one-step journey. And the journey goes beyond the state.